That’s a wrap!
Langley Arts Fund adds new piece of public art
— Created August 3, 2022 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Langley Arts Fund is at it again – beautifying the City by the Sea by adding wraps of original art to plain telecom utility boxes to brighten things up.
The latest wrap is at 3rd and Park Streets and features “Evening Fireworks,” a work by Freeland artist Kathy Lull.
“The inspiration was a sensational sunset over Useless Bay last year,” Lull told Whidbey Weekly via email. “Double Bluff is in the background. The piece was completed last July. Then the original sold at the Bayview Farmers market soon after. The wrap contest announcement appeared around that time, too.”
Lull said this was a larger format landscape for her, done on a 12-by-24-inch canvas with acrylics, although she also works with oil, pastels or watercolor.
The latest wrap project has been in the works for a long time, according to a press release from LAF.
“We had a call for artists last summer, but it took almost a year to get this wrap in place,” said Diane Divelbess, the LAF member who oversees the utility wrap program. “We finally connected with Humphrey Sign Company in Oak Harbor, and they delivered!”
This is the second utility wrap put in place by LAF. The first, located near Sweet Mona’s Chocolate Boutique, features work by local artist Kay Parsons. But these are only the beginning; LAF members plan to cover eight more utility boxes in the next two years.
According to LAF board member Bruce Hanson, the call for artists yielded a great variety of responses.
“We had a theme of ‘The Serenity and Beauty of our Islands,’” he said. “As you might imagine, we got a variety of wonderful responses to the theme – some beautiful, some whimsical, some introspective.”
The utility box project fits LAF’s mission, which is in part to identify new projects and artists and provide support for creative endeavors in the community.
“We at LAF believe that Langley is a Great American Art Town, and transforming these boxes reinforces that, making Langley a more pleasant place for people to visit and to live,” Hanson said, easily ticking off three things he loves about this project.
“I love the variety of imagery we’ll be bringing to Langley, how the images transform the rather ugly telecom boxes and how we’re supporting artists in Island County,” he said.
It seems not all utility boxes are created equal, either. Each varies in size, but Hanson said there seem to be three or four sizes that are most common. Images used are fitted to its particular box. And, while not exorbitantly expensive, it does add up. LAF covers all the costs.
“It ranges between $1,000 and $1,500, depending on the size of the box and any particular installation issues,” Hanson said. “We also pay each artist a $500 stipend for the use of their image.”
Covered utility boxes are not a new concept, although it seems Langley is the only community on Whidbey Island so far to do it. It is something members of the Oak Harbor Arts Commission hope to bring to the community by the end of the year.
“I’ve been working on this for three-and-a-half years,” said Therese Kingsbury, member of the Arts Commission. She said the commission has already identified all the city-owned boxes in Oak Harbor. The first two boxes are located on the corner of SE Pioneer Way, across from the Wells Fargo Bank.
“The first two would likely be student art, and I have my eye on work by another student,” Kingsbury said. “We do want to support local artists and we would love to be able to pay them a small stipend. I am hopeful by the end of the year we will have our first two boxes done.”
Kingsbury said the utility box wraps are popular in many communities and hopes Oak Harbor will soon join Langley in bringing more art to public spaces.
“I think it brings interest, it becomes a focal point,” she said. “Just the fact we have public art shows on a small scale what we’re trying to do on a larger scale. It’s being done everywhere. We’re gonna make it happen!”
To learn more about the Langley Arts Fund and its mission, visit langleyartsfund.org. To see more of Kathy Lull’s art, including prints of “Evening Fireworks,” go to kathylullart.com or find her at the Bayview Farmers Market most Saturdays through Oct. 15.
“The Langley Arts Fund did a great job seeing the project through,” said Lull. “The resulting wrap looks great! I hope people enjoy the art. I feel honored to be a Langley wrap artist. I hope it adds to Langley’s artistic ambiance.”