John Knox, executive director of the Earth Island Institute, stands next to Ryan Kerrigan, the artist who created "Redwood," the box sponsored by Earth Island. Photo: Deborah Zierten via Streets Alive!
John Knox (right), Executive Director of the Earth Island Institute, stands next to Ryan Kerrigan, the artist who created “Redwood,” the box sponsored by Earth Island. Photo: Deborah Zierten via Streets Alive!

Two local organizations have put out separate calls seeking artists to participate in projects underway in collaboration with the city of Berkeley.

One of the projects, with a focus on sprucing up utility boxes, is spearheaded by the Earth Island Institute’s Streets Alive! effort, and the other comes from Expressions, a local art gallery that’s organizing a January 2014 show about homelessness.

Brighten the streetscape

Streets Alive! is looking for local artists to design six utility boxes in South Berkeley — on Sacramento and Adeline streets — and on Telegraph Avenue near UC Berkeley.

The call for artists outlines thematic suggestions for each box, along with its proposed general location: Sacramento Street (sustainability); Adeline Street in the Lorin District (arts and theatre; the farmers market; food and eats; and diverse cultures); and Telegraph Avenue (“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on Telegraph Avenue”).

Streets Alive! welcomes artists “of most art mediums,” including painters, photographers, mixed-media artists and graphic designers. Artists are asked to submit three to five work samples and complete an application. Portfolios will be accepted, via email or postmarked, through Nov. 15.

Any artist from Alameda County is eligible, though “strong preference” will be given to Berkeley-based artists. Artists whose designs are selected will receive a stipend of $300 to $400 for the creation of a final design; all rights of use and ownership will be turned over to the city of Berkeley and the Earth Island Institute in the end.

Artist Misako Miki designed this utility box at Durant and Shattuck avenues. Photo: Streets Alive!
Artist Misako Miki designed this utility box at Durant and Shattuck avenues. Photo: Streets Alive!

The organization is also looking for sponsors to help pay for boxes; learn more here.

Streets Alive! has already completed numerous boxes around downtown and near Berkeley High School and UC Berkeley. See photo galleries of the boxes on the Streets Alive! Facebook page. More information can be found on the Streets Alive! website.

The group has planned a benefit for public art Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. at the Firehouse Art Collective. Art, music, food, drinks and conversations with local artists, along with a silent auction, are slated to be part of the event.

Streets Alive!, an initiative of the Earth Island Institute, works to restore urban areas through public art. By partnering with local artists, governments, businesses and organizations, the group aims to bring “more life and vibrancy to our public spaces.” The group has worked with dozens of artists and sponsors to install art on utility boxes in Downtown Berkeley, and plans to expand into North Berkeley, South Berkeley, Solano Avenue and the San Pablo Avenue corridor. See the Streets Alive! blog on its utility box project here.

In early September, Berkeley’s Expressions Gallery put out a call for artists who have work that relates to homelessness, or who might be inspired to create new related work for possible inclusion in a show to launch in January.

Expressions Gallery, with the city of Berkeley as co-sponsor, will host the show, at 2035 Ashby Ave., for two and a half months starting at the end of January. The show may also move to the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center as a “special presentation” between the city’s yearly exhibitions.

Rinna Flohr and Marcia Poole will curate the show. All media and styles — sculpture, photography, mixed media, digital prints, oil, water color, pastel, etc. on paper or canvas — are accepted. The maximum size of framed or stretched work is 50 inches in any direction.

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 30. Artists are asked to email jpegs of their work (in RGB color mode at 72 ppi, no larger than 1200 pixels in either direction). They should include their name, phone number and email address, as well as the title, medium and dimensions of the work framed or stretched. There is no application fee for submission.

Those who are interested can email, with “Submissions for the Homeless Show” in the subject line. Work must be delivered ready to install by mid-January.

Free library sessions on finding funders for artists and art organizations

Coming up in early October, artists and art organizations will have a chance to bone up on how to find grants and other financial resources in a free course at the Berkeley Central Library. One part of the event, presented by the San Francisco-based Foundation Center, will include an overview of the organization’s online databases to instruct attendees how to create customized searches to find lists of foundations that match art funding needs.

The second part of the event, led by Jayna Swartzman, Bay Area program director for the Center for Cultural Innovation, will focus on programs, grants and resources available for individual artists and art nonprofit organizations. Three grant programs, an incubator service, benefit opportunities for artists, upcoming workshops and other resources will be discussed.

The two-part session is scheduled for Oct. 4 from 3-5:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Central Library’s third floor community meeting room. Learn more and pre-register here.

Vandals target artists’ work on Berkeley utility boxes (10.11.12)
BUSD to spend Lonely Island’s $250K on theater programs (06.02.12)
City project will transform utility boxes with vibrant art (06.22.11)
Berkeley beautification: Transforming the utilitarian (03.30.10)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...