As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

That would be true with one local wildlife artist who sees the potential of beauty wherever she goes.

A few months ago, Tina Dille, known for her spectacular raven and other creature portraits, embarked on a mission to transform downtown utility boxes into masterpieces through what has since been dubbed the Mini Murals Project.

The city of Tehachapi collaborated with Dille and the Tehachapi Valley Arts Association on the project to go along with the full-size wall murals in the downtown area.

“When the idea came across my desk, I said yes, absolutely,” wrote City Manager Greg Garrett in a news release. “These local artists are passionate and the renderings of their vision will add to our beautiful downtown corridor.”

TVAA artist Michelle Miller joined Dille by donating their time and supplies to bring the project to light. Dille is painting a bear family on the utility box in front of Gallery 'N' Gifts on Tehachapi Boulevard.

"This has been a process because we had to do a concept and an application," said Dille. "I'm an animal artist, so I have to stay with what I do. Bears are symbolic because we have bears in Bear Valley."

Miller said the landscape mural she is painting on the utility box located across the street in front of the Railroad Park is a rendition of her favorite hiking trail.

"I think this is a wonderful thing for Tehachapi," said Miller. "I think that's what we should be known for... art and wine and all those wonderful things. I am so happy to be one of the first to do that."

According to Corey Costelloe, assistant to the city manager for Tehachapi, the murals will reflect the Tehachapi area.

"We were excited to see this happen," Costelloe said. "It was easier to make this happen because these particular boxes around downtown are owned by the city and not the utility company, so that definitely helped. The art association did a great job getting everything lined up and putting together a great application process and some great artists. I'm excited to see how we can grow this program."

According to Charles White, chairperson of the Murals Committee for Main Street Tehachapi, public arts projects are an important part of any community.

"They beautify, they add interest and show pride in the community," said White. "It's really important that the art reflects the community, and that's why the local artists are coming up with the designs."

Dille said she hopes to secure funding to continue the project by creating more murals starting next spring when the weather turns warm again.

"I feel it's important that the artist is paid for their work," said Dille. "We can only do maybe two or three a year. We will have to fundraise to do that."

In addition to the Mini Murals Project, Tehachapi has a series of eight large historical murals that are part of the downtown walking tour. Images of the murals can be found at

Artists who are interested in participating in future projects are asked to contact Dille at 238-5962 or Gallery 'N' Gifts at 822-6062.