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Dedham seeks artists for utility box project

“A Tail of Dedham Pottery” by Elaine Matt Schaffner was among the 15 fiberglass rabbits that decorated the town last year.

Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe/2012 file

“A Tail of Dedham Pottery” by Elaine Matt Schaffner was among the 15 fiberglass rabbits that decorated the town last year.

It started with bunnies; now the Dedham Public Art Project is moving on to utility boxes.

Jennifer Barsamian, co-president of project parent organization Dedham Shines, received approval from selectmen this month to collaborate with the Department of Public Works and paint Dedham’s utility boxes.

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The next step it finding artists to submit designs.

“People miss [the rabbits]; they miss turning a corner and seeing something unexpected that brings something cheerful to their day,” Barsamian said at a recent selectmen’s meeting, referring to the 2012 public art project.

That project placed 15 five-foot fiberglass rabbits around town that were painted and otherwise decorated by artists, most of them local.

For this year, a utility box at the corner of East and High streets, owned by the Dedham-Westwood Water District, has already been completed by Dedham artist Marietta Apollonio. Apollonio also decorated the first rabbit for last year’s project.

“The day Marietta spent there painting [the utility box], we met so many people,” Barsamian said. “It was so much fun.”

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Barsamian said she was looking at utility boxes at the following intersections: East and Rustcraft; East and Lamoine; East and Vincent; Milton and Walnut; Milton and Sawmill; Pine and Bridge; Washington and Curve; Washington and Elm; Washington and Incinerator; River and Milton.

The boxes are generally about four feet tall, three to four feet wide, and two feet deep. They’ll be decorated as a part of Dedham Clean Up Day on April 27, and artists will have two weeks starting on that day to complete their boxes.

Barsamian told selectmen that she hoped the decorated utility boxes, now gray and meant to blend into the background, would evoke some kind of emotion in passersby, whether cheerful or even angry.

“Someone might not like a box, and I like the idea that it could bring about any sort of reaction,” Barsamian said. “It creates conversation and community in a fun way.”

Proposals are due on April 15, by 4 p.m. to Dedham Shines at PO Box 1023, Dedham, MA, 02027, or dedhamshines@­gmail.com. Artists must live or work in Dedham. For complete guidelines, visit www.dedhamshines.org/utility-box-art-project.html.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at eisen.globe@­gmail.com.

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