Auburn artists paint their way through town


Photo credit: Finn Thomas

Traci Owens holding a replica of the utility box she painted.

By Finn Thomas

Messenger Staff Writer


Many people, including Placer students, have recently noticed that the utility boxes in downtown Auburn have been painted by artists around town. Traci Owens, a Placer mom and local artist from Studio Eight02 painted one of the boxes near Placer campus.

“The arts commission took it to the city and they voted on it and the city voted unanimously that we could be approved and we could do it,” Traci Owens stated, explaining how the idea was accepted to be a go ahead.

All the utility boxes were painted by artists in the Auburn community.

“They are all local artists. We tried to keep it all local since it’s our little town and a lot of the artists who are really involved in different things. I choose to do one too because I have a studio, and I should be representing artists in town if I have a art studio, because I’m one of the few female artists who have my own art studio in town,” Owens explained.

Traci Owens painted the utility box on the corner of Oak Wood and High street, right by Taco Tree. Many students may pass it as they are going to lunch, or leaving school.

“I asked them to do that box because my daughter goes to Placer,” continued Owens.

Owens’ box, along with some of the other painted utility boxes each have a meaning that is important to the artist or even Auburn itself.

“I named mine ‘Waiting for Wings’ because at lunch a lot of kids are running out and running around and texting each other and I thought, they are just waiting to get their wings and move on in life and I thought, there it is that’s going to be my box, “Waiting for Wings”. That’s why I did birds. There is a lot of birds sitting around waiting to get their wings, and then there are some birds that have their wings and are flying, and those represent the kids who lost their lives last year because we had a few of them so I wanted to represent them too,” Owens said as she explained her inspiration for the utility box painting.

If anyone wanted to find more about Traci Owens’ box and what it represents, there is a little story written on the utility box itself.

Although Owens got to pick the path she took on what she painted on her utility box, other boxes had to have certain picture painted on them to represent something about Auburn.

“For my particular box I asked them to do that one, and I told them what I thought I wanted to do, something geared towards the kids. There are some boxes like the one up here had to be bicycling because of the “Endurance Capital”. Some of them had to be a certain theme and some of them did not,” Owens stated.

Students around placer enjoy the look of the boxes, and even have a couple favorites.

“Yeah I think they are really pretty and artistic. I like the ones in downtown with the

tricycles on it, my old art teacher painted those,” said Abby Vaughan, Placer High School Student.

“I like the one that’s over on the corner there that has the canoe, and I like the one up here with the birds on it,” answered Stephanie Kopecki, another Placer High School student.

There was a tour on Saturday, November 8th for the newly painted utility boxes to be displayed.

“On Saturday they are doing a tour. The tour will start at the box right around the corner here, and the sugar plum fairies are all going to be there. Each artist will tell their inspiration for that box,” said Owens, explaining how the parade would start around the corner from her studio.

Although it seems like many boxes have been painted, there may be some new ones to be painted in the future.

“There will be more boxes to become available come Spring,” Owens concluded.

Local artists spent a long time looking for inspiration and painting their own utility box, which was definitely worth their time, since many have noticed that they do brighten up downtown Auburn.