Zap! goes on: tagging won’t stop urban beautification

The Zap! goes on.

Back in March, there seemed to be an exuberant spirit in the air among artists selected and commissioned to paint their work onto Maryland Parkway utility boxes, part of a Clark County public-art program designed to enrich and beautify the well-traveled thoroughfare.

Social media was abuzz. County employees chimed in, citing this as one of the more successful Zap! programs—partly because of the community ties to Maryland Parkway, partly because of the number of artists (20 of them, painting more than 90 boxes between Russell and Desert Inn).

In its seventh phase, the project had been successful in countering graffiti that would normally mark the boxes, and in making a visual connection between the neighborhoods and their histories. Artists apply, committees select and residents give input. Ten years after its inception, original boxes remain. Save for two racially motivated incidents, Zap! works have been mostly unharmed.

So, county officials were surprised when a tagger marked large symbols in black over 10 boxes by Sush Machida, Nanda Sharifpour and Valentin Yordanov. Shan Michael Evans’ work was also tagged, but with different markings. Graffiti coating allows for removal, but not all boxes responded well, and artists volunteered to touch up the works. The program? Undeterred. But the county has asked anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers of Nevada at 702-385-5555.

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Kristen Peterson

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