More box wraps on the way

City’s Public Art Committee looking for two more artists who want $1,000

The Campbell River Public Art Committee has put out another call through the Campbell River Arts Council for artists to submit work for two more box wraps as part of an ongoing process of city beautification and celebrating culture.

“We’ve been at this for a few years now,” says Ken Blackburn, chair of the Public Art Committee and executive director of the Arts Council. “It grew out of the need for a public art policy in town and defining public art as the details of the town and the public landscape.”

Blackburn says in creating the box wrapping program, he first researched how other communities were attacking the problem, and worked from there.

“Other communities have been working on various boxes around their towns, whether they were water boxes or traffic boxes or electrical boxes, or whatever, and I noticed when I was snooping around at what they were doing that a lot of them were just having artists paint directly on the boxes themselves – which is okay, but can become problematic.”

The cost of upkeep and risk of vandalism for boxes that are painted directly, Blackburn says, just didn’t make the effort and cost worthwhile, in his view, so they decided to go a different direction with the Campbell River program.

“Why not take your artwork and wrap the boxes with it? You get a much longer lifespan out of it and it’s far easier to maintain what with the graffiti guarding that’s built into the material,” Blackburn says.

So they partnered with local business Epic Design Studio, who have the technology and material available to print and wrap the boxes, and the city soon got on board, recognizing the value in the idea.

The program began with the wrapping of the Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) box at the corner of Alder and Rockland Roads, depicting how water moves through the local water system, depicted by local artists Pete (The Pen) Davies.

Since then, Blackburn says, “we’ve done five or six of those big water boxes, we’ve done 10 traffic boxes, and now there are three new generator boxes to be done.”

One of the generator boxes will be done by the Museum at Campbell River, Blackburn says, because it’s at City Hall itself and the city wants it to depict the history of that location, so who better than the museum to compile historic images from that location and have them made into a wrap?

The other two, however – one at the Community Centre and one at the Sportsplex – are under an open call for submissions right now.

Blackburn says this is the first time a call has gone out requesting a specific theme for a location.

“They want the wrap on the box to reflect the site, specifically,” he says. “So the Sportsplex box will reflect sports and recreation and the Community Centre box should reflect the theme of ‘diversity.’”

“The image(s) should show a diversity of culture, a diversity of abilities, a diversity of ages and a diversity of activity,” the call reads. “There should be families and individuals. If it works, it would be great if we could have ‘All ages, stages and abilities’ on the box.”

Eventually, Blackburn says, the city wants to have these boxes placed in a pamphlet-style map and incorporate them into the regional tourism strategy.

“People could come and see how the local infrastructure is being used to promote local art and artists – like a gallery that’s spread out all over town. It’s a brilliant idea.”

For more information on the box wrap program, public art in general or this call for submission in particular, head over to campbellriverpublicart.com or email Blackburn at arts.council@crarts.ca, which is the same address submissions are being received.

The Call to Artists is open until 4:30 p.m. July 16.