Public Art Committee hears plans for ‘Paint the Pavement’ project in Salisbury

Published 7:13 pm Monday, August 24, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Community members on Monday proposed a “Paint the Pavement” project in downtown Salisbury to the Public Arts Committee.

The project aims to brighten and enliven downtown spaces as well as allow locals to add their artistic footprint in downtown Salisbury. Doing so could increase the city’s sense of ownership and pride and, hopefully, the foot traffic and tourism, said presenter Taylor Ellerbee, who owns Pier and Curtain Home Restoration.

Whitney Wallace Williams, former chair of Downtown Salisbury Inc., is also leading the project.

The idea comes from the city of Charlotte, which carried out its own “Paint the Pavement” project in 2017.

Ellerbee said the art wouldn’t include any words and would be a community-wide effort among anyone interested. The intersection near the Salisbury-Rowan Farmers Market — the Railwalk Pavilion at 228 E Kerr St. — is being considered as the first site for the project as well as other intersections located within the Arts District.

A total of 22 intersections have been identified for the project. But intersections cannot include North Carolina Department of Transportation roads.

The total cost of the project to paint all 22 intersections is about $4,300. Ellerbee said that on July 21 an application was submitted to the Rowan Arts Council, in conjunction with Downtown Salisbury Inc., for the Arts & Cultural Development Grant in the amount of $2,000. Those grants will be awarded in September, which is when Ellerbee and Williams will know if their grant request was accepted.

There’s also the potential to submit a grant request to the Statewide Grassroots Program, which is where Salisbury receives some funding for the annual Sculpture Show. Additionally, private donations can also help with funding. Ellerbee said two private donors have contacted organizers in the previous two weeks.

Barbara Perry, chair of the Public Art Committee, said the committee serves as an “approval mechanism.” So once the project has been finalized, the committee will vote to approve the art. She added that it’s important for all involved with the project to obtain permission from local businesses in areas where the intersections are painted.

While no artwork has yet been established, Ellerbee said the idea of a “quilt pattern” theme has been discussed to represent the various heritages of locals and/or the history of Salisbury. Additionally, a “paint-by-the-numbers” has been suggested as a way to include children and non-artists in the project.

Ellerbee and Williams said they’ve been in communication about the project with city officials, artists and city council members. In keeping with a grassroots effort, Ellerbee said a facilitator trained in diversity and cultural awareness could help develop specific criteria for the artwork and maintenance.

“For where we’re at with the project right now, we were thinking the more diversity, the better. The more grassroots this is, the better,” Ellerbee said. “I can come up with all sorts of ideas all day long, but I think if we actually allow the freedom for artists and creative thinkers in our community to come up with ideas, it will be a lot more rich and interesting.”

Once criteria is established and funding is obtained, the city would facilitate safe street closures. Once painted, those designs could remain for at least one year with the possibility of continuing in the future with more designs. Williams said one year is a good duration as it would allow the artwork to remain “fresh and timely,” and would eliminate the need to scrape or spray off old paint installation.

The project is open to all artists of all ages and skill levels who are interested, Williams added.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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