Outside the Box
Utility, transformer and traffic boxes play a valuable role in our city’s function, but these large green and silver boxes are not exactly pleasing to the eye. They sit next to traffic lights and in business and residential areas throughout the city. Jessica Lyle, Edmond Electric’s Community Program Manager, has spearheaded an effort to turn these unconventional canvases into works of art.
Thinking Outside the Box
“We’ve seen how art can transform a space. Adding utility boxes as ‘canvases’ to the already thriving public art program just makes sense.” says Jessica Lyle. She began working on “Outside the Box” in early 2020 and says the City of Edmond council and staff were immediately intrigued by the idea of adding these boxes to the public art program. The pilot program was completed in July 2020 with four traffic boxes in Downtown Edmond.
The first boxes were wrapped using repurposed artwork from the City of Edmond’s 2020 calendar. Artist Julia Blasdel says, “I added a whimsical touch to some of Edmond’s most iconic places. It’s one of my favorite projects to date.” The artwork, paired with the high foot traffic location was the perfect way to introduce the community to the program. Julia serves as a graphic artist for the City of Edmond. She says, “It’s so exciting to see my artwork displayed in such an innovative way and so close to my office.”
A Blank Canvas for Local Artists
Jessica’s hope is to add local artists to the pre-approved list of art and to have sponsor businesses partner with local artists to create custom designs for their utility box wrap. “My hope is that sponsors will think outside the box, of course!” Edmond’s public art program began twenty years ago and has picked up momentum recently with many new public art pieces added throughout the city, the Rollin’ Deep Mural festival, and VIBES art walk.
The pilot program was a hit; three more wraps have been completed with more underway. Those interested in sponsoring a utility box wrap may submit a request by selecting a pre-approved design or submitting original artwork to be approved by the Edmond Visual Arts Commission. In most cases, the boxes being wrapped are on the property of the business or individual submitting the application, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Jessica says, “we’ve had some ideas thrown around about a utility box wrap outside the Rodkey House and the Edmond library. A sponsor has expressed interest in covering the cost.”
Costs vary depending on the size and complexity of each box, but Jessica says sponsors can expect the contribution to be between $500 – $1,000 per box. The City of Edmond will coordinate installation through their streamlined process. For more information about Outside the Box, visit the City of Edmond’s website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.