Bedford Utility Box Project Debuts Two New Designs 

July 17, 2023

There are two new public art displays in Bedford this week. 

The Bedford Utility Box Project’s most recent designs are wrapping up after a few months of work. 

Artists Jaylynn Rozier and Jill Strait decorated the latest utility boxes as part of local muralist Sarah Scoville’s initiative to add splashes of color and public art around Bedford. These most recent additions will bring the decorated utility box count in town up to six and were coordinated by Scoville, the Town DPW and Facilities departments and funded by a grant from the Bedford Cultural Council.

Scoville said, “This year, the jury [that chose from the designs submitted after a call to artists in the spring] was Paul Harrington and Sean Hagan, both Bedford Public Schools faculty, and me. It’s always an enjoyable conversation about fun bold design, showing off local talent, and representing Bedford well.”

Rozier, BHS Class of 2023, finished up the utility box near the playground last Thursday. Staff Photo

Jaylynn Rozier is a Class of 2023 Bedford High School graduate. She said that her art teacher encouraged her to submit a design to the spring Utility Box Call for Artists. Rozier moved around a lot growing up with a father in the military. She began attending Bedford schools in eighth grade through the METCO program. Her relationship with the Bedford Schools is the longest she’s had and Bedford feels like home base. 

Rozier likes to draw portraits and learned from “a lot of practice.” Her utility box design reflects that. While she didn’t draw herself into her design, she said she was inspired “to see a reflection of myself when I look around my town.” The front and back of the box Rozier was assigned – a box near the playground/Town Center/E-Field complex across from the Bedford Free Public Library – depicts line drawings of many faces. The sides and top of the box are an intricate puzzle piece design meticulously painted in a range of skin tone hues. Scoville wanted to celebrate the first solo student utility box artist (the first highly visible utility box painted in town at Loomis Street and Railroad Avenue was designed by BHS art teacher Sean Hagan and students) by finding a box within view of Bedford High School.  

Rozier’s intricate design took around three months to paint between school, she’s heading to college in Graphics Design in the fall. Staff Image

Rozier has been steadily working on cleaning, priming, drawing out, and painting the box for the past few months. Rozier’s post-BHS plans are heading to Atlanta to attend Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for Graphic Design.

Jill Strait, an artist from Leominster, completed a utility box in the eastern part of town. Strait has a degree in Painting and Art History and has been teaching art for the past 17 years at Danforth Art in Framingham and other centers for art throughout Boston Metrowest, as well as assisting Boston artist Lisa Houck. 

Strait, a professional artist from Leominster, said her box design was inspired by hikes at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Courtesy Image

Now focusing on her own work, Strait is working on seven public art projects this summer – including a mural behind the Music Emporium on the Minuteman Bikeway in Lexington and the utility box at the corner of Middlesex Turnpike and Crosby Drive. 

Strait’s Bedford Utility Box design was “inspired by many hikes at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge,” which is a refuge run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service along the Sudbury and Concord Rivers, including trails in Bedford. Great Meadows NWR is a prominent area for birding. Strait’s image depicts a great blue heron resting on a branch with colorful foliage. Strait said, “Seeing a blue heron always inspired me, they are such magnificent creatures.” 

Strait said that she is “so grateful for the opportunity to add art to Bedford,” and said the best part of painting utility boxes (Strait also painted a utility box in Lexington), is “the reaction from people passing by. The kind words and thank you’s make your day!”

Scoville is excited to give other artists the opportunity to receive the same reaction and continue to add art around town. “This coming fall I’ll apply for another Bedford Cultural Council grant and ask the town for approval for two more boxes to be painted next spring.”  She’s hoping to receive approvals next winter and announce a call for artists in March. 

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Otti McCutcheon
July 25, 2023 9:47 am

These are beautiful!

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