With the help of area artists, the Clintonville Area Commission is hoping to add a bit of color to High Street.

The CAC's planning and development committee is seeking artists to design artwork to cover seven traffic-signal control boxes along High Street.

The shiny silver boxes, overlooked by some and considered eyesores by others, are at the intersections of High Street and Kanawha Avenue, Morse Road, Henderson Road, Hollenback Road, Oakland Park Avenue, North Broadway and Como Avenue.

"They're generally kind of an ugly feature of the streetscape," said Megan Valentine, who's heading up the project for the CAC. "We're trying to change that by covering them with artwork."

Valentine said the goal is for artists to submit works that could cover the entire box, not just one side, with a vinyl wrap. Examples from other communities include a treasure chest or a sunset scene.

The idea isn't a new one.

CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt said the concept has been kicked around the commission's committees for more than five years -- and wasn't always a welcome project.

"Between the city not really thinking it's a great idea and other things getting in the way, (the project was never completed)," she said. "Finally, the city (of Columbus) developed a policy about it. I've been for this ever since the beginning. I think it adds some personality and character. I think it's a bit of serendipity on our streets and the chance to show some of the personality of Clintonville."

Valentine said the idea was kick-started after the now-infamous debate over the kangaroo-crossing sign on Clinton Heights Avenue, removed by the city early last year but brought back a few months later after tongue-in-cheek public outcry.

"People seemed to say, 'The kangaroo is artwork and Clintonville needs more artwork,' " she said with a laugh.

When she joined the CAC's planning and development committee, Valentine volunteered to spearhead the push for the control-box art. She said when she approached Columbus officials about the idea, she was surprised by their support.

"When they first started five years ago, the city was not into it," she said. "They kind of frowned upon it. ... But when we came back, they had all these guidelines set for it."

With some of the red tape out of the way, the group now needs to find the art they'll use for the projects.

Valentine said it doesn't want to put too many restrictions on the artists but hopes to receive submissions that evoke thoughts of Clintonville in some way, rather than simply random works of art.

"We want the artwork to somehow be representative of the Clintonville community," she said, "whether that has to do with the history or the character of the community."

Paintings and other concepts can be used, but must be submitted in the form of a digital image in order to create the vinyl wrap.

Valentine said she's hoping for a diverse group of artist submissions, but those artists must reside within Columbus.

The wraps themselves will cost about $1,100 east for the larger boxes and $750 for the smaller ones. While some funding already is in place, the CAC is looking for partners to expand the program.

"We've put some feelers out with a couple of groups, and I haven't heard back from them," Wetherholt said. "It's too bad because we would like to do more. But I think once people see them, they might become more interested in them."

But even if only a couple of the wraps materialize, Valentine and Wetherholt hope they will add a welcome splash of color to the High Street corridor.

"The only bad thing is that it's not going to take care of the box near my house," Wetherholt said with a laugh.

Submissions or questions may be sent to Valentine by email to knapke.80@gmail.com. For more information and full submission information, go to clintonvilleareacommission.org.

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