Residents will notice the installation of a new batch of vinyl art wraps on nine traffic signal control boxes across Kent.
The traffic cabinet wrap project is a partnership among the Kent Arts Commission, Kent Parks Planning and Development, the City’s Public Works Department and the Kent Police Department. The project is part of the city’s Public Art Program.
What began in 2017 as an effort to deter graffiti and beautify unsightly boxes that control traffic signals has resulted in 30 art-wrapped boxes located throughout town, including nine new designs installed this month.
The project was first suggested by Kent Police Department staff to prevent graffiti on traffic signal controller boxes, which frequently serve as blank canvases for taggers. The Kent Arts Commission quickly came on board, offering to fund and spearhead the project.
“We saw it as an opportunity to contribute artwork to highly visible streetscapes,” said Dan Cox, 2017 chair of the Arts Commission.
The Public Works Department contributes by helping to select frequently vandalized boxes and preparing them for the application of artwork. The Parks Development and Planning Division also contributed additional funding for a box located at the new Fourth Avenue South and Willis Street roundabout.
The Arts Commission extended the opportunity to design a box to professional and emerging artists residing in Washington state. The artists could work in any medium, so long as the final artwork could be translated and digitally reproduced on a two-dimensional vinyl wrap.
The head-turning installations transform their locations into outdoor galleries, giving drivers something bright and interesting to look at when they’re stuck in traffic and making passersby smile, according to a city news release from Ronda Billerbeck, cultural programs manager. Each artist brought a distinct style to their box, giving the project a range of themes and styles. The art-wrapped boxes are doing their job as graffiti deterrents as well, with very few incidents of tagging, which are easily cleaned off the vinyl surface.
Plans are in the works to complete another round of the project in 2022.
Nearly 50 applications were received, and nine artists were selected and paid $1,000 each to design artwork for the following box locations:
• W. Meeker St. and SR 167 underpass. Artist: Susan Hass
• 108th Ave. SE (SR 515) and SE 222nd Pl. Artist: Brooke Borcherding
• Washington Avenue and Meeker St. Artist: Kelly Loney
• 104th Ave. SE (SR 515) and SE 248th St. Artist: Hailey Tayathy
• Kent-Kangley Road and SE 256th St. Artist: Johanna Porter
• Pacific Hwy. S (SR 99) and S. 240th St. Artist: Naoko Morisawa
• Central Ave. and Pioneer St. Artist: Linda McClamrock
• 42nd Ave. and Reith Road. Artist: Hoa Hong
• Fourth Ave. and Willis St. roundabout. Artist: Overall Creative