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  • Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine

Napa PBID Committed to DowntownBeautification for Locals and Visitors Alike

by Craig Smith

The Downtown Napa gallery show was still being curated, and already people had picked their personal favorites from the works on display. Is your pick the painting of birds by Ann Nunziatta, presented at Pearl and Soscol? Perhaps you like the Lilies by Katie Salenfriend, at the corner of Second and Randolph? If you lean towards abstraction, you’re favorite could be a work by the Baker Sisters, at the corner of First and Franklin. There are thirteen pieces for your viewing pleasure, all from local artists. Some compositions will touch your heart, others will challenge your mind. Odds are, you’ll find many of them to your liking.

Oh – and all this beautiful art? It’s being displayed on the sides of utility boxes.

Walk down just about any sidewalk in a commercial area, and at many intersections, you’ll come across utility boxes. Some house phone lines, others the controls for traffic lights and what not. All are usually grey or khaki green, terribly faded from the sun, and ugly. None of them are even close to appea ling or interesting.

That’s no longer the case in Downtown Napa. This year, thirteen of those boxes have been covered with artwork from local artists. For their artwork to be considered for this project, artists submitted copies of their proposed art work. That was reviewed by two panels, one made up of city staff and community-based artists, and another by the PBID committee, which is funding the effort.

PBID is the Downtown Napa Property Based Improvement District. PBID membership is comprised of all property owners in the Downtown and Oxbow areas. That board, sort of the property owners’ counterpart to the Downtown Napa Association, is always looking for ways to help downtown businesses. When the City of Napa rolled out its Parklet program, the PBID Committee set aside $190,000 to provide grants for businesses to build them. PBID introduced the hanging flower basket program downtown five years ago and is also responsible for rooftop lighting, holiday decorations and the Christmas tree in Veterans Park.

“PBID members are committed to making downtown an interesting and aesthetically pleasing experience for Napa residents and visitors,” said Ryan Gregory, PBID Committee Chair. “The utility boxes provided an opportunity to turn the ordinary into something special that people can enjoy. The artwork that we selected is varied – some of it whimsical, some thought provoking while others are simply beautiful art. It’s the proverbial turning lemons into lemonade.”

Michael Holcomb Jr., a member of both the PBID committee and of the Napa Rail Arts District (also known as RAD) brought the idea of wrapping utility boxes to PBID. For him, it began personally. “My son was born prematurely, and spent his first five months in Walnut Creek. We were there constantly.” Holcomb noticed that many boxes in Walnut Creek were wrapped in art. “It’s a big deal down there.” Bringing that to Napa was a natural for him. “The art in Napa is already fantastic, and PBID is the perfect vehicle to provide this,” said Holcomb.” It’s an improvement to downtown that locals can appreciate and enjoy, and visitors will like it as well.”

You can enjoy the art from your car, bicycle, or on your own walking tour. For a list of all the locations and the artists biographies, visit And this is probably just the start – look for more artwork from PBID in the months to come.



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