BRENTWOOD -- Next spring when the U-pick farms open for the season, a group of Liberty High School art students plan to infuse downtown Brentwood with vivid images of the city's agricultural pride in the form of corn, strawberries, pumpkins, peaches and cherries.

The pop art-inspired or graphic-style images will be displayed on utility boxes surrounding the campus and Brentwood Civic Center. This is the second year that Liberty's Arts and Humanities Academy has taken on a public art project as part of the senior internship class.

Last year, the seniors painted an aquatic-themed mural with indigenous fish inside a tunnel near King Park. This year's emerging utility box project is under review by the Brentwood Arts Commission, which will be followed by the Brentwood City Council for final approval.

"The electrical boxes that they are using are a wonderful idea," Brentwood Arts Commissioner Juan Castillo said. "It (public art) adds to the culture, character and hometown feel."

Castillo was impressed with the professionalism of the students as they presented a Power Point detailing the cost estimates and several design options. The utility box public art theme has been done in Emeryville, Lake Tahoe and San Diego.

"We saw that other cities are doing it," senior Briana Graham said. "Those boxes really stick out."

The project is a way to beautify something that can be an eyesore in the community, according to AHA students. Graham anticipates that the process of painting five utility boxes will be highly visible and draw onlookers downtown.

"It is a nice community piece," she said. "We expect foot traffic and people asking us questions about it. We want as many people involved as possible."

The proposed utility boxes are located at Oak and Walnut streets, Oak and Brentwood Boulevard, Second and Maple Street, Second and Pine Street and Second and Brentwood Boulevard. The students anticipate challenges similar to those of last year's students with rain and graffiti, but they plan to use an anti-graffiti clear coat of paint.

Many of the students in the class are currently applying to art schools and are excited about the chance to be professional public artists through the project, Graham noted. She added that their art teacher, Katie Collins, inspires them as budding professional artists.

"We wanted to focus on selling the product," senior Monique Andrade said. "It definitely takes us a lot of time like a job. It is a great experience that will look good on college or job applications."

Recently, the Arts Commission toured the downtown and brainstormed public art locations and mediums. Among the possibilities are a town clock and artistic bike racks.

The next step is to research the cost and present the findings to the City Council, which has asked the commission to look into additional public art options downtown.

Contact staff writer Paula King at 925-779-7174.

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