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Inaugural Paint the Pavement project postponed due to paint shortages

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Due to material shortages attributed to the pandemic, the city has indefinitely postponed the inaugural Paint the Pavement project originally scheduled for this weekend.

The project is the result of a grassroots effort led by local artist Taylor Ellerbee and attorney Whitney Wallace Williams and modeled from Charlotte’s project in 2017. A subcommittee of the Public Art Committee in May selected five paintings from more than 30 submissions to be featured on five crosswalks within Salisbury’s Railwalk Arts District. Four will be painted at the intersection of Kerr and Lee streets and one at the mid-block crossing on East Kerr Street next to Lee Street theatre.

In June, the Public Art Committee set a tentative date of July 25, with Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson stating at that time that a paint shortage issue could push the project back.

Since then, the city has been unable to confirm orders for the pavement paint, Nelson said, with Sherwin-Williams attributing the delay in shipments to production delays caused by the pandemic. Other companies, she said, have noted a material shortage for traffic paint. She said the city has not committed to one particular company for the paint, though it currently has an account with Salisbury’s Sherwin-Williams location.

The city has reached out to other companies, but some specialty colors for the artwork may be needed, which further limits the city’s options. A specialty paint order prevents artists from mixing the colors themselves.

Additionally, the project is operating on a tight budget. The project will be funded by a $2,000 grant received by the Rowan Arts Council in December, with no costs to the selected artists.

City Engineer Wendy Brindle told the Post that the engineering department is not currently experiencing any delays in projects due to shortages. Public Works Assistant Director Chris Tester said the same, but noted there have been longer delivery times on stormwater pipe, though it hasn’t caused any issues with projects at this time.

The selected pieces will feature colorful depictions of children, trees, vegetables, raised fists symbolizing unity and notable Salisbury locations like Bell Tower Green Park and the Salisbury Depot. The pieces “reflect the history, culture and vibrancy of Salisbury” and will use at least three colors. The paintings cannot include words, logos, commercial speech or advertising.

PAC members in May welcomed Nelson’s suggestion for a separate reception to feature all of the submitted artwork, with the Salisbury Station and the Farmers Market Railwalk Pavilion as considerations for the hosting location. Nelson told the Post Thursday that the city is still aiming for an event to showcase submissions from the other artists, but no plans are currently in place. The committee has not met during the month of July.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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