The utility boxes on the corner of California and Manzanares were transformed into public art last week by Socorro County Correctional inmates, in partnership with the Socorro Beautification Committee.

“My favorite part has been the joy it brings the community and our team,” Prescott Apachito, artist of the design, said. “It gives me motivation to have more opportunities I can look forward to.”

Cesar Gonzalez, who worked on using tape to create the checkerboards, said that as a team they decided to go with the theme of a guitar and bird to symbolize freedom and music.

“I think being out and doing something that the people can see that we are trying to better ourselves has been my favorite part,” Gonzalez said. “If we can do it, anyone can do it, you just have set your mind to it and be positive.”
Brandon Morales said his job was to help with the details; he said it’s been like a paint by numbers project.

“It’s been great, it helps with being productive in the community, and I hope more people get involved in things like this,” Morales said.

Apachito, Gonzalez and Morales are all part of the RISE program. RISE is a jail-based community alternatives program that promotes rehabilitation. The Socorro Library works with participants of RISE to improve literacy.

Chelsea Jones, chair of the beautification committee, said the entire RISE Literacy group collaborated on ideas and the artist put them together into sketches.

“It has been fun and rewarding developing ideas for the pop-up art projects,” Jones said. “We share many laughs and camaraderie.”

Jones noticed the disrepair of the utility boxes and the idea of painting them has been years in the making. The committee has more pop-up art projects planned, including three large murals in the works. She believes that public art will rejuvenate public spaces and bring positive attention to local artists.

The Socorro Beautification Committee, Diamond in the Desert, Inc. is a nonprofit whose mission is to support community beautification projects for the City of Socorro and Socorro County that increase community attractiveness, pride, visitation and economic growth.

Eddie Garcia, Socorro County Jail Administrator, said that the detention center is doing great things inside and outside of the facility, “when it comes to showcasing our artist inside the facility and putting Socorro on the map when it comes to all of our programming we are doing as a facility.”

Jessica Carranza Pino, Editor