Arts and Entertainment

Pillars, or utility boxes, of Sequim

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At 75, Gary Robertson sticks to his passions.


Whether that’s swimming everyday at SARC or finishing a painting each week, his labor of love has turned into a love letter for Sequim.


Robertson’s three-piece watercolor art is now wrapped in vinyl around a utility box at the corner of Washington Street and Fifth Avenue on the northeast corner. He is the third artist in the ongoing project by the City of Sequim to honor the city’s Centennial celebration.


His utility box art joins artists Katelin Ghormley, at the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Washington Street, and Dale Faulstich on the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street.


“It feels good to leave a mark of some sort,” Robertson said. “Sequim is a great place to live and to spend the rest of my life.”


Robertson moved to Sequim 20 years ago from Seattle where he owned a sign making business and later worked for Ernst Home Center before coming to Sequim. He even met his wife, Marilyn, while at the bank shortly after moving and continued sign making for Ernst before the franchise went out of business. Robertson worked another five years as a custodian at Sequim High School and Greywolf Elementary before retiring.


While every utility box is different, Robertson was given three sides to work with.


His goal was to represent an older Sequim along with present day Sequim.


Even though he’s not a lifer to Sequim, his motto, which is spread through the panels, says “Sequim welcomes you … to spend a day … or a lifetime …”


“And it’s a wonderful place to live for a day or a lifetime,” he said.


The first panel shows parts of downtown Sequim, a lavender field, the grange and the welcome sign elk with a twist.


“I wanted a more realistic elk on the welcome sign,” he said. “The elk live and come down from the mountains to pass through our town. They were here before us.”


To create the panels, Robertson painted with watercolor on large sheets before his work was scanned and printed to size for each panel. His biggest challenge, he said, was making sure the scale was right.

“But it was a lot of fun,” he said.


The project was sponsored by Ake Almgren who has lived in Sequim since November 2004.


“It’s a great way to turn something not so good looking into something nice and positive,” he said.

“It really lights up the spot with a friendly message.”


The City of Sequim continues to seek artist submissions and sponsors to continue the program.


Cost is $1,500 with $500 going to the artist and $1,000 for production and installation.


Barbara Hanna, city communications and marketing director, said the city currently doesn’t have additional designs or sponsors. However, each utility box has a label with a QR code attached for people to link to more information.


“This is a great opportunity for artists,” she said. “The expectation is that these will be up for several years.”

“It helps give Sequim a nice appeal,” Almgren said.


Hanna added that while artists work in different mediums and sizes, the biggest issue is that every box is different with different proportions. But when Hanna developed the idea with Mayor Ken Hays they left the style open on purpose.


For more information, contact Hanna at 681-3422 or, or visit and search “utility box.”

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