Artists Paint Utility Boxes to Curb Crime

LAS VEGAS -- Clark County Parks and Recreation has come up with a way to support local artists, beautify the Las Vegas valley, and fight crime. It's called the Zap program and it uses items you see every day on the side of the road.

Artist Zak Ostrowski has put more than 50 hours into his art, using a public utility box near Maryland Parkway and Twain.

"A lot of the people who lived in the area who talked to me were just real proud of their area now. It gives people a reason to be proud of where you're from," he said.

Ostrowski has now painted five utility boxes as part of Zap program. Patrick Gaffey with Parks and Rec came up with the idea in 2005 as a way to beautify the valley and fight crime.

"We just keep trying to find the money, but we just want to keep moving around the valley and putting them in different neighborhoods," said Gaffey.

"According to Gaffey, plain, beige boxes are ripe for vandalism, but even the vandals respect nicely painted, artistic boxes. That means less graffiti on your streets. The boxes also support the local arts community, which is one reason the Metro Arts Council and Clark County pay the artists for their work.

"I see Zap as a gateway for public art to incorporate and engage in the community. That's the exciting part," said Patty Dominguez with the Metro Arts Council.

Artists and organizers say community support is off the charts, leading to a more open, engaged neighborhood. As long as they have the money, the Metro Arts Council and Clark County will continue to Zap graffiti all over the valley.

If you want to learn how to be an artist or how to bring Zap to your local utility boxes, you can contact the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department.


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