Painted utility box project celebrates Davis Farmers Market

NADIA DORIS / AGGIE
NADIA DORIS / AGGIE

Public art project underway for 40th anniversary celebration of Farmers Market

Downtown Davis is known as the heart and spirit of the Davis community, and a new public art opportunity will ensure it stays that way. The City of Davis Arts Commission and Davis City Council are asking artists to decorate five utility boxes in Davis with art that celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Davis Farmers Market.

The specific boxes commissioned to the Davis Farmers Market celebration are located on the south end of Central Park on Third Street, between B and C streets. Selected utility box proposals will celebrate the Davis Farmers Market, Davis agricultural heritage, locally grown food, healthy eating and healthy communities.

“The things that are important about the farmers market and what it means in our community is what we will be looking for in those artist submissions,” said Rachel Hartsough, arts and culture manager of Davis.

The market operates every Wednesday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 8 a.m to 1 p.m in Davis Central Park, located between Third and Fourth streets. Everything in the market from fruits, vegetables, honey, eggs, wine and meats are grown by the local sellers. The market also hosts a 33-week concert series, featuring live bands, local food purveyors, bounce houses, pony rides and face painting for kids.

The Davis Farmers Market began in 1975 and, according to Davis Farmers Market manager Randii MacNear, it has grown in popularity ever since. MacNear adds that there are many farmers markets, but the one in Davis has received international attention.

“[Davis Farmers Market] is a community asset that shapes the flavor and culture of Davis. […] We try to be an inspiration for people to understand how important it is to eat healthy foods and develop community,” MacNear said.

Painted utility boxes are a common public art project across various cities and Davis is planning for more in the near future. So far, there are five painted utility boxes around downtown. Artists like Danielle Fodor, a local artist who specializes in murals and scientific illustrations,  have participated in past projects. Her painted utility box can be seen at its location on First and D streets.  

Fodor is interested in local and unknown history of places and said she seeks to bring out hidden beauty in her artwork for the public. She explains that she likes the surface of the utility box because it is plain and unnoticeable until an artist transforms it. She believes the role of public art is manifested in its visibility and the public’s inevitable encounters with it.

“It’s important to me that visual artists work in the public space to redefine the places and focus on the things that matter to us as a community,” Fodor said.

Each artist or group of artists will receive a $1,000 stipend to cover costs of the project upon selection. Artists must submit their proposals by May 25 per the instructions found on the City of Davis website. The entire project will be unveiled at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Davis Farmers Market on Aug. 13.

Written by: Mashal Ayobi – city@theaggie.org