Some public art lovers in Glenwood South say there’s no need for local crosswalks to be so pedestrian.
They’re hoping to transform three of the busy street’s crosswalks into conversation pieces by making public art a part of the standard black-and-white markers for drivers.
Along the way, they hope to slow down traffic with a reminder that the neighborhood is a place thousands of people call home, and one worth exploring.
“Public art is almost like decorating your living room. It’s a way of saying, ‘We’re here, sit, visit,’” said Donna Belt, co-coordinator of the Cool Walkings project.
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The project takes inspiration from other cities with crosswalk art, including zipper crosswalks in Baltimore and rainbow crosswalks in Vancouver, Canada.
Three crosswalks at intersections on Glenwood South – at Jones, North and Tucker streets – will get a makeover under the plan. An artist’s design will be chosen for each crosswalk, and the entire community will be invited to install the art.
“It’s a really great thing for artists who want to engage in community building,” said Julia Mastropaolo, a co-leader of the project.
The designs should be primarily white, with secondary designs in blue, and still recognizable as a safety feature. Artists are encouraged to use designs that can be easily stenciled, to encourage participation by volunteers.
The project received a $1,000 grant through Raleigh’s Neighborhood Improvement program, and organizers are raising another $2,500 to help pay for artists’ stipends and materials.
Belt and Mastropaolo said the Office of Raleigh Arts has been a valuable partner in the project, helping them to navigate approvals throughout city departments as part of the new citizen-initiated artwork on city property program.
Kim Curry-Evans, the city’s public art coordinator, said the project, as well as another public art installation near Artspace, has helped the city try out its guidelines for how a group of residents can install public art.
“They’re definitely our starting point for how this will work for other citizens,” she said.
There are lots of issues for the city to consider, including safety, liability and risk management. But the city is eager to work with more residents, Curry-Evans said.
“If you have patience, we can do this,” she said.
The Artspace project features murals on temporary pedestrian walkways because of apartment construction, on Blount Street across from the gallery.
Annah Lee, director of artistic programs, said the apartment developer, The NRP Group, approached Artspace about an art project. The gallery then commissioned the Peregrine Projects, an artist cooperative, to create three colorful murals.
“It made perfect sense to collaborate and bring something artful to what could be an eyesore,” she said.
Find out more
An information meeting for artists will be from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, at United Arts Council, 410 Glenwood Ave. #170. RSVP to email@example.com.