Fremont finds joy in its graffiti abatement program

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- "What brings you joy?"

The city of Fremont asked that question and the results are brightening up the entire community.

For Harnoor Nagra, joy means science and art. She spent a good part of her summer combining the two at the intersection of Fremont Boulevard and Gateway Boulevard.

"I get a lot of inspiration from space. It's one of my favorite things to draw," said the Irvington High School freshman.

Nagra is one of 15 local artists who were selected to paint over traffic signal utility boxes. She covered the metal box with planets, stars made of circles and squares, and a young girl.

"I think we need more women astronauts, so I made a girl in space. Every time you drive by one, you get a little bit happier," said Nagra.

The city is in the midst of painting over 170 traffic signal control boxes.

"It started as a graffiti abatement program hoping to alleviate some of the extensive graffiti that was going on in town and it has been wildly successful," said Susan Longini, Fremont's BoxArt! program manager.

Since the project started in October of 2014, about 65 boxes have been converted into public art. It has worked wonders. Graffiti has dropped by 95%.
In past years, artists were challenged to make art that started conversations or paid homage to Fremont's agricultural past. This years theme is paint what brings you joy.

For art teacher Neera Rani, that is nature. She painted a scene with ladybugs and sunflowers on a utility box on the corner of Fremont Boulevard and Blacow Road.

"Mostly my work is about nature, so I wanted to participate," said Rani.

Longini said she has received many calls from people commenting on how the painted utility boxes bring smiles to their faces.

"Instead of seeing graffiti or an ugly square metal box, they see art and it uplifts them," said Longini.

Fremont officials are so inspired by the success of BoxArt! that they are looking into launching a wider mural program to prevent graffiti on large walls around the city.

For more information about the program or to sponsor a BoxArt!, visit the City of Fremont website.
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