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Swap box bonanza!

Swap Box with Lei
I pass the Mayor Larry Swap Box on Lisgar Street on my way to and from work, and sometimes at lunchtime too, so I have an ongoing relationship with it. Sometimes I make a swap, other times I just leave something or take something. Sometimes all I do is peek inside.

For about a week now I’ve been leaving a homemade Artist’s Trading Card (ATC) in the box each morning. I write “Zoom” and “” on the back, slip it into a plastic sleeve, and leave it in the swap box.

Sometimes it takes all day, but eventually someone takes my ATC. (It probably doesn’t hurt that this particular swap box is right outside Wallack’s art supply store.)

Yesterday the finder of one of those ATCs left a comment on the blog! She’s a student at the Ottawa School of Art, who just happens to love street art and who has an ongoing public art experiment of her own. Not only that, but she said she would return to the Swap Box later in the day to leave two of her original wood block reduction art prints, since she felt horribly sad at having nothing to swap when she took the ATC.

I rushed back to the Swap Box at lunch time, and sure enough, there they were! They didn’t fit inside the box, so the artist had rolled them up and taped them to the outside of the box. I took one. (I wanted both, but I didn’t want to be greedy.)

The second print was gone when I passed by after work, and in its place was an orange lei. Don’t you think the Swap Box looks especially festive with its orange lei dancing in the wind?

Meanwhile, I got a second email from the artist saying she is now considering making smaller pieces especially for the swap boxes! (You can see some examples of her prints and processes on facebook, under the profile name ‘bussita terra.’)

Wood Print and Photo on Cubicle WallHere’s a picture of the wood block print on my cubicle wall, along with an old photo of ragamuffins, which I rescued from the trash a few years ago. I felt a little surge of happiness every time I glanced at that wall today.

The Mayor Larry Swap Box was erected on November 19th (World Toilet Day, coincidentally), and in two and a half months it has evolved a history and a following of regulars who leave art and condoms and nickels and bus tickets and assorted odds and ends.

I love that art is now being swapped in the Swap Box. I LOVE it.


12 comments to Swap box bonanza!

  • I love the picture, glad to see you’re enjoying the print ;).

  • Hi Kelsey – it’s definitely a keeper. Thanks again!

  • I really love the idea of this swap box. ATCs are such a great idea too.

  • Nicki

    I love the swap box idea. It reminds me of a wonderful story I once read about foster children who received trinkets and letters from an old, abandoned mailbox. Thanks for sharing the idea.

  • Where exactly is the box? Are there others in the city?

  • Lynn, this one’s on Lisgar Street, just east of Bank. There are others, yes, but it’s hard to keep track of them since they come and go. But I believe there’s still one on Third Avenue just outside of Bridgehead, another one on Cambridge, just north of Somerset, and one on Primrose, near the stairs.

  • James

    Guerilla marketing, fun :)

    Is the swap box on Rochester Street still there?

  • James 😉 Last I heard, the door had broken off the swap box on rochester, and the person who had made that one took it down for the winter. I believe she was planning to fix it and re-install it in the spring. (I think the one on Primrose, right around the corner from Rochester, is still up.)

  • The swap box on Wellington in The ‘Burg seems to be no longer. I used to drop band pins in there. Any info?

    And hey, I had no idea that my birthday falls on World Toilet Day. I just thought that November 19th was all about me, Tommy Dorsey and Calvin Klein. 😉 Thanks for reporting.

  • Yes, as a matter of fact my friend Gilles emailed me a few months ago to report the demise of that swap box. It seem it had a good long run, but in the end, it went the way of all swap boxes. :( I’m hoping the locals will put up a new swap box there. (hint hint)

    And congratulations on finding some additional meaning to your birthday!

  • “box is right outside Wallack’s art supply store.”
    I was there yesterday (on my way to buy buttons) and remembered to look around and I still have yet to see a swap box! The snow was blowing in my face and I had a deadline (get back to the bus before my transfer expired) so I didn’t linger. But one of these days I am going to finally get to look into a swap box.

  • Oh, you went to that high-end button store? I’m going to go there very soon, to get high end buttons for my sweater that I’m almost finished knitting!

    Okay, Wallack’s is on the corner of Bank and Lisgar. The Swap Box is on Lisgar, just east of Wallack’s – it’s on the closest wooden telephone pole to Wallack’s.