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City accepting artist applications for ‘Paint the Pavement’ project

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — City staff are inviting local artists of all ages and skills to submit designs for the first downtown pavement painting project intended to “celebrate Salisbury’s diversity, inclusivity and creativity.”

Discussions for the “Paint the Pavement” project began in August after Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins proposed the idea of a community-driven diversity mural project at the July 21 city council meeting. Her idea behind the mural was to bring people together through a shared vision using the arts, enliven city spaces, align with the city’s efforts to strengthen infrastructure, drive public-led initiatives and shout, “Everyone belongs.”

Taylor Ellerbee, who owns Pier and Curtain Home Restoration, along with attorney Whitney Wallace Williams have led the project since. Ellerbee was inspired to bring the project to Salisbury after traveling to numerous small towns throughout the nation with similar artwork before the pandemic. She outlined Salisbury’s plan using a draft document from Charlotte’s project in 2017.

While Charlotte allowed the local community to determine the pavements for the project, Salisbury’s paintings will be on five crosswalks within Salisbury’s Railwalk Arts District — four at the intersection of Kerr and Lee streets, and one mid-block crossing on East Kerr Street next to Lee Street theatre. The paintings would become city property as they’re located in the public right-of-way.

The project will be funded by a $2,000 grant received by the Rowan Arts Council in December, with no costs to applicants or selected artists. The project was also presented to members of the Public Art Committee in August, where committee members formally voted to support the project in a participatory capacity.

Ellerbee has said the term “artist” remains broad. Those eligible for selection can include a group of artists, neighborhood associations, community organizations, schools, nonprofits and business associations as long as they reside in Salisbury or Rowan County.

The application calls for the artwork to “reflect the history, culture and vibrancy of Salisbury,” with a minimum of three colors used. The paintings cannot include words, logos, commercial speech or advertising.

April 30 is the deadline to submit entries digitally or via email at public.art@salisburync.gov. Applications can also be mailed to Public Art, 132 N. Main Street, Salisbury, NC, 28144. Selections are anticipated on May 15, and June 6 is currently scheduled for official pavement painting day. The paint will remain in place for one year.

Selections will be made by a separate committee including members of the local community, similar to the process used for the Salisbury Sculpture Show, said Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson. The committee is still being formed at this time as project leaders work to recruit a diverse committee.

More information about the project and applications are available at salisburync.gov/paintthepavement, and those interested can also contact Salisbury Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson at 704-638-5235.

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