There’s something different about Sequim — and it’s not the Irrigation Festival.
The power and control boxes at several intersections are all receiving face lifts in the form of vinyl art coverings.
“I saw it as a way to inform not just visitors but locals about their own history,” said Mayor Ken Hays, who helped spearhead the project along with Barbara Hanna, the city’s communications and marketing director.
Vinyl wrapping of the boxes involves printing an art piece on a weather-and-graffiti-resistant strip of vinyl tape and applying it to all open surfaces of the box. The City of Sequim and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe have each sponsored an artist, spending $500 for the commission and $1,000 for the vinyl wrapping.
Hays said he envisioned the wrappings as similar to stelae — the ancient stone slabs with histories and narratives engraved on them. In his mind, the Astoria Column in Astoria, Ore., is the quintessential modern stela, with its spiraling words leading up to pictograms of the city’s history.
He also wants them to beautify the downtown atmosphere and strengthen the aesthetic “net” of downtown through what he calls “accidental art.”
“You’re crossing the street waiting for the light,” he said, “and then you see it and think, ‘Oh, this is cool!’”
The first box to be beautified is on the northeast corner of Sequim Avenue and Washington Street, and features Native American-inspired designs from artist Dale Faulstich.
Faulstich designed the box using traditional Jamestown S’Klallam iconography. He incorporated an eagle and salmon on the south and east sides of the box to reflect the tribe’s influence in Sequim today. Tribal origin stories say that the S’Klallam tribe living on Sequim Bay descended from a wolf and so the wolf is used on the north face of the box.
Finally, the western face of the box depicts the community elders, which Faulstich says are a key element of tribal life.
There are many more boxes in need of beautification and Hays says that the city has received only two proposals for projects thus far.
“We haven’t really gotten there but it’s a start,” said Hays. “When people see them and start to understand what’s possible, they could get more engaged in it.”
Those interested in producing artwork for the boxes should contact Hanna at 681-3422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Ross Coyle at email@example.com.