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Call to Artists: Utility Box Art Project


The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition are partnering to commission local artists to enliven four stormwater utility boxes in SE Portland with vibrant stormwater management or watershed-health themed images that will transform the street and reflect the surrounding community where they are located. The artwork is intended to inspire Portlanders to learn more about Portland’s natural history and to become stewards of the environment. It is also expected to deter tagging, reducing the need for graffiti removal services and complaints from residents.

Four artists will be invited to submit design ideas and will each receive a $1,000 stipend to implement their vision.


Eligibility + Application Deadline

Artists must complete an application that demonstrates their interest in this project and the ability to execute their idea. Artists must be available to complete the project by November 30th, 2022. Interested artists are invited to apply here by Friday, September 9th with the following:

  • An artist statement describing interest in the project, experience creating public art, and a vision for how the art will enrich the community, and
  • Two or more examples of previous work with a brief description of each.
  • Design concepts are encouraged, but not required. See specs below.

Selection Process

The Bureau of Environmental Services and SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition will review the

applications. Four selected artists will be invited to submit a design by September 15th .

Design Specifications

Artists will use the design template included in this call to Artists to create a color concept drawing showing the planned artwork for all sides and the top of the utility box.

The art must be original and appropriate for viewing by all segments of the community. Submissions may be hand drawn or computer generated. The art will need to be visible from a distance, therefore bold colors and designs are encouraged. Artists may submit multiple concepts for the same location.   

In addition:

  • The art must be acrylic paint and cover all four sides and the top of the utility box.
  • Designs cannot restrict any vents or airflow through the boxes.
  • Designs which contain trademarked or copyright image will not be accepted.
  • Entries must not defame or invade the rights of any person(s), living or dead.
  • The art may include the artist’s name (no larger than 3” x 5”).

Designs are subject to final approval by BES and all submissions will become the property of the City of Portland. Upon completion of the project, City maintenance crews must be able to fully access the components inside the box.



The utility boxes are located in neighborhoods throughout inner southeast Portland. The following sites have been pre-selected:

  • SE 10th and Stark
  • SE 35th and Division
  • SE 16th and Rhine
  • SE Taggart and Clinton

Selected artists will enter into an agreement with SE Uplift for implementing this project according to its goals and conditions. Artists will make arrangements to meet with the City before work begins so the City can be available for any questions and to ensure that the art will not interfere with the utility box operation and maintenance.

Artists are responsible for utility box preparation and execution of their design by November 30, 2022. Supplies for cleaning, sanding, priming, and applying an anti-graffiti clear coat finish will be provided. Each artist will have a stipend of up to $150 for paint and other supplies.


Each selected artist will receive a $1,000 commission to be paid accordingly:

  • $200 upon approval of the design concept and submission of an invoice to SE Uplift, and
  • $800 upon completion of the project and submission of an invoice to SE Uplift.

Have a Question? Contact Alex Cherin, Partnership + Grantmaking Programs Manager at SE Uplift Neighborhood Coalition:

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