Pavement painting project creates dynamic crosswalks

Published 12:10 am Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Salisbury Public Art Commission put out a call to artists in 2021 for the first Paint the Pavement Project, but it was almost a year before the project could fully come to life.

The event had to be postponed, as many things, did, due to COVID, but last weekend, artists were at last able to put their larger than life designs on pavement.

On Saturday, the city worked from 1 to 7 p.m. to prepare the pavement in five selected crosswalks, then from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday the selected artists worked on their pieces.

In developing the project, other mural projects in other communities were explored, according to Alyssa Nelson, urban design planner in the Community Planning Services for the city.

“Painted crosswalks present an opportunity to celebrate diversity, inclusivity, enrichment and creativity,” said the explanation of the call for applicants. “The community-sourced creations encourage a sense of connectedness and collaboration, while making art that is accessible to all. Installations in Salisbury’s Railwalk Arts district (funded by the North Carolina CARES for Arts Grant from Rowan Arts Council) will transform blasé white striped asphalt into vibrant, inspired installations. If that weren’t enough, painted crosswalks offer these additional
potential benefits of reducing traffic incidents and increasing foot traffic.”

Nelson said she was “just so excited by the explanations we got from artists about why they wanted to participate. I mean they got right to the heart.” She was also pleased that the artists chosen represented “a true cross section of people, from families to individuals, and from all walks of life, which is what we hoped for, a group that would represent our whole community.”

For the project, selected artists or teams painted their design on one of five crosswalks in the Railwalk Arts District which is at the intersection of Kerr and Lee streets, as well as on a new crosswalk at Lee Street theatre and the Farmer’s Market Pavilion.

Nelson said the location was a natural choice for the artwork, but she would not object if the city asked about other locations.

There was no cost to enter, and all materials were supplied by the Salisbury Public Art Commission. This project was made possible through a Rowan Arts Council grant.

Designs were selected by a local and diverse selection committee. Individual Rowan County artists, groups, neighborhood associations, community organizations, businesses, nonprofits, schools and/or churches were encouraged to apply and could submit up to five entries. Work will be monitored and on display for a minimum of one year.

See a photo gallery of the artists in action here: