Art boxes, like this one Ann Zanbilowicz had built for the Kye Bay neighbourhood, are popping up all over the Comox Valley. The boxes allow artists to exhibit their work. New pieces are placed in the box regularly, for your viewing pleasure.

Art boxes, like this one Ann Zanbilowicz had built for the Kye Bay neighbourhood, are popping up all over the Comox Valley. The boxes allow artists to exhibit their work. New pieces are placed in the box regularly, for your viewing pleasure.

New public art boxes providing a window into Vancouver Island’s creative soul

New Comox Valley-based initiative gives artists a COVID-safe way to exhibit their work

By now, most Vancouver Islanders must be familiar with little libraries — those little neighbourhood book depots that encourage people to take a book to read and leave another for their neighbours.

Their success has inspired at least one Vancouver Island group to forge a similar path, but this time with art.

Artsphere Comox Valley has started placing neighbourhood art gallerias in public spaces, for people to view creations from Comox Valley artists.

The project was created by Artsphere Comox Valley member Kate Brown, and her husband, Piet Rutgers, who designed and built the first two boxes, located on the Royston Seaside Trail, and at Kye Bay.

Unlike the little libraries, the contents of the artboxes is to be viewed in place, not traded or removed. But the art displayed is changed weekly, and Brown’s neighbours always ensure the Royston Trail box is regularly updated.

“We have been getting tremendous response from the neighbours,” she said. “They come by, look at the birds, then admire the art. They will say ‘you haven’t changed your art yet’ and I tell them it’s not Saturday yet.”

Brown said the idea came after Rutgers saw an article about a similar project in Toronto Island Park.

“There is kind of a folksy community there, and through COVID, these art boxes were sprouting up,” said Brown. “So Piet contacted the fellow who started the project on Toronto Island… then Piet made me one as a Christmas gift. That was the first on, on Royston Trail.”

Ann Zanbilowicz commissioned Rutgers to build the Kye Bay box, and Brown said to expect more art boxes to pop up soon, as other Artsphere members have expressed interest in getting their own.

Rutgers has the basic design plans available for anyone who wants to build one themselves.

“We are leaving it up to people’s imagination, but we are encouraging them to put their own artistic bend to it,” said Brown. “More members are joining in. I know there are someone up the Crown Isle way (planning to build one), someone in Valleyview, and one in the Puntledge area. And I think there is a potters’ group in Merville that are interested in building one as well.”

For more information on how to get your own art box, contact Brown at katebrown5@gmail.com

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terry.farrell@blackpress.ca
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