Lengthy effort brings public art to Clintonville's traffic-signal boxes

JIM FISCHER
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Jadon Schwahn (left) and Cody Meendering, both with Clean Slate Group, install vinyl panels with artwork by Ellie DiRutigliano onto a traffic-signal box at High Street and Oakland Park Avenue on Sept. 10. The long-in-the-works project also saw similar pieces by local artists installed at High Street's intersections with Como Avenue, Kanawha Avenue, Hollenback Road and Henderson Road.

The creations of five local artists were installed on five traffic-signal control boxes along High Street in Clintonville this week, wrapping up a years-long effort – at least for now.

The idea to brighten up the bulky metal boxes with artwork via vinyl wraps first was broached at a 2013 meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission.

It fizzled out but resurfaced at the end of 2018, with Megan Valentine placed in charge of the project on behalf of the CAC’s planning and development committee.

In July 2019, a fundraising campaign was begun to cover the installation of the first three pieces. Enough was raised to install five, Valentine said.

Each vinyl covering costs between $650 and $1,100 to install, she said.

The committee was able to fund the installation of work by Leo Murray, a 10-year-old student at Indianola Informal K-8 School, at Como Avenue; and by Paul Nini, professor and past chairman in the Department of Design at Ohio State University, at Kanawha Avenue.

These joined the original three works announced: Gail Kelley’s work at Henderson Road; Jack Hamman’s piece at Hollenback Road; and Ellie DiRutigliano’s contribution at Oakland Park Avenue.

“It’s awesome. We’re proud to have been able to install these five,” Valentine said. “We’ve 100% accomplished what we hoped, which was to use the traffic boxes to bring local art into the community.”

“As a longtime Clintonville resident, I’m pleased to provide something for the traffic-box project,” said Nini, whose other public work includes a mural at the North Market.

Nini said for his submission, he selected a photo of a women’s march for equality from the 1970s, treated with large half-tone dots on a pink background.

“I consider Clintonville to be a very progressive community, so in that regard, the image is very appropriate,” he said. “It also gently points to the fact that significant progress on this issue still needs to occur.”

Murray said there was no real story behind his face-collage submission, save that “it’s one of my better pieces and I thought it would look good for something like (the traffic-box project).”

Murray said he didn’t expect his work to be selected, but was “pretty surprised” when Valentine notified him he’d been chosen.

“It’s cool they’re having art in public,” Murray said. “It’s the kind of project Columbus needs more of.”

Valentine said there are two additional boxes on High Street that could be covered, and artwork has been selected for them, but funds still need to be raised.

But she said it would not likely happen until 2021 at the soonest.

Donations still can be made to the project’s GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/f/CACtrafficboxart.

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Jadon Schwahn installs a vinyl panel Sept. 10 on the traffic-signal box at High Street and Oakland Park Avenue.