In a time when we are so limited on outdoor activities, a local artist wishes to bring smiles and hope to Angelenos through her art installation at one of the most visited places in Glendale -- a utility box right across the street from the Americana.
If you walk down Brand Boulevard right in front of the Museum of Neon Art, a gleeful image of the late Tex-Mex singer Selena Quintanilla will greet you as she strikes a pose with a microphone in hand. On the other side, a vibrant Frida Kahlo will captivate you.
Rocío Cintrón, is the Latina mastermind behind these enchanting murals. She has worked at Disney for 10 years as a toy designer and currently works as a design manager for Disney Junior Toys.
She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she combined her love for art and toys.
Having attended school in New York, a place known for their immersive street art, Los Angeles welcomed her with a new variety of creative displays.
“I loved the street art in New York, but when I got to LA, it’s another level here,” she said. “There’s murals, street art and galleries. I think LA really lends itself. There’s so many talented people and the weather here keeps the art beautiful and fresh for a long time.”
Throughout her years in Los Angeles, Cintrón said it wasn’t until around four years ago that she noticed the art installations on the once very plain utility boxes.
“I always saw them in the corner while driving. Some murals are kind of hidden or not seen as easily, but those utility boxes are right out there. I told myself one day I’m going to do them, but I never really had the time,” she said.
A specific box art caught her attention every time she’d drive by it. The bright pink box had the words “yes you can” in big letters.
“It just brightened up my day every time I saw it, and it finally inspired me to pursue my goal of having one as well,” Cintrón said.
She reached out to the creator of that installation, Huyen Dinh, and the Vietnamese artist was extremely helpful and gave her a complete rundown of the process on how one can apply.
Cintrón told NBC4 the application process is extensive and requires artists to fill out various forms and waivers. Her application was approved a month after she applied, and she was given a deadline to finish her art. The city also allocated a stipend for supplies.
The City of Glendale and the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission started the “Beyond the Box – Mural Art Program” to give local artists, or anyone that has a passion for art, the chance to display their creativity on a unique canvas that will be seen by many.
The City of Glendale has more than 100 painted box murals and the call for artists goes out once a year.
A specific utility box location can be requested, but it’s not guaranteed that it’ll be granted since the city has the final say.
Cintrón, a Glendale resident herself, said she wanted her piece to be seen by many.
“Selena loved shopping, it would be so perfect to have it by the mall, and it’s right outside the Neon Museum. It combines everything that I love: art and shopping,” she said.
The artist has the freedom of drawing whatever they want, but Cintrón wanted to draw a piece that truly meant something.
“Frida is the most famous female painter known, and she’s Latina you know, she’s the one,” she said. “I chose these two figures because they’re so popular, but I also chose them to pay my respects to these big legends. They give me so much inspiration and strength.”
Given that she works as a toy designer for Disney, her artwork is a lot more charming, almost for kids.
“I wanted little brown kids to see it and be inspired and think that they can do really great things,” she added. “And also see something that they can relate to and for them to be proud of their culture.”
Cintrón painted her design back in October during one of the hottest weekends of October. She painted from early morning until the sun went down; not only through the scorching heat, but while wearing a mask.
“The people passing by gave me the strength to finish. Every single person who walked by, they were very happy,” she said. “People stopped by to take pictures; cars would honk as they drove by. People offered me food.”
She now has a newfound respect and appreciation for LA artists. She praises all the artists that work and create murals out in the hot Cali weather.
“It’s a lot of work, they’re really doing it with a lot of love,” she stated.
Even though her experience was challenging, she would love to add more public displays to her resume.
“Every time I pass by, it makes me so proud and happy,” she said.
Cintrón encourages any artists out there to apply for a chance to display their art, as multiple LA cities offer this opportunity.
“We live in a city with so many talented artists. We’re very lucky to have all this beautiful art that makes our city better,” she said. “Art lifts your spirits. Especially in these times, art is that simple thing, you can just see, and it can make you feel better.”
The mural can be found at 216 S Brand Blvd., Glendale, CA 91204 and you can check out the rest of Cintrón’s work on her Instagram @rocio_cintron.