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Spokane Arts seeking designs for utility box wraps in Spokane and Spokane Valley

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Art wraps on utility boxes have become commonplace in Spokane and Liberty Lake, adding splashes of color and visual interest to local street corners.

Now the city of Spokane Valley is looking for artists for its first utility box art wraps.

“The Valley wanted in on it,” said Shantell Jackson, program director for Spokane Arts. “It was just a matter of getting funding and approval from the city.”

Spokane Arts has been helping recruit artists for art wraps since 2015. Visual artists are invited to submit designs of their work that can be printed on vinyl and wrapped around the boxes.

The designs are as different as the artists, Jackson said. Some look like landscapes and others are more abstract. Jackson said she’s seen several that feature the infamous Garbage Goat that is in Riverfront Park.

“They’re all different,” she said.

Not only do the art wraps beautify otherwise drab street corners, they also provide a way for local artists to showcase their work publicly.

“It’s another avenue for artists to get their work seen,” she said. “It’s another way to engage in public art without being a muralist.”

Spokane Arts is looking for designs for 12 utility boxes in Spokane Valley and eight boxes in Spokane. Spokane Teachers Credit Union is the sponsor of the boxes. Artists can specify whether they would like to be considered for Spokane, Spokane Valley or both. They can’t select on which street their art will be featured

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Artists may submit up to four designs by Sept. 11. Artists must live in the Inland Northwest, and the designs must be original. The content of the design must be family friendly and cannot include political messages, religion, sex or advertising. Applications are available at spokanearts.org. Artists who have a design selected will receive $450 per box design.

Artists who are designing wraps to be used in Spokane are encouraged to avoid heavily used landmarks that are already featured on many art wraps, including the Great Northern Clocktower and the Garbage Goat. Artists who would like to see their work displayed in Spokane Valley are encouraged to use features unique to Spokane Valley and its history in their designs.

A jury will select which designs will be featured by the end of September. The jury will include members of the Spokane Arts commission as well as representatives from the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley. An installation date is yet to be determined.

The goal of the jury, which changes every time art wraps are selected, will be to select a variety of artists and styles, Jackson said.

“We want to show the diversity of all the artists,” she said.

The process is competitive, Jackson said. The last time art wrap designs were selected, there were 150 applicants for the 14 available utility boxes.

“I’m pretty excited to see what we get,” Jackson said.

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