If you’re hoping to create public art in New York City, it’s a good idea to get friendly with the Department of Transportation. They have a handful of projects designed to enliven DOT property, from sculpture installations to Citi Bike station painting to art display cases.
Proposals for one of these projects – mural painting on concrete jersey barriers – is approaching fast. Artists have until Aug. 21 to respond to the DOT’s Barrier Beautification request for proposals.
According to the DOT, most of the barriers that have been painted so far separate bike lanes from motor traffic. In some areas – especially here in Queens – that might mean they come carrying community angst. New bike lanes can draw out native resident/recent transplant tension; they sometimes replace traffic lanes or parking spaces; they represent a shift in the environment, on the roads that people use every day, in the mental maps they’ve had for years.
And then on top of it, these jersey barriers – a safety measure but, unfortunately, ugly as hell.
Per the RFP, barrier murals should be bright and colorful, with “simple, bold patterns.” The idea is clearly to make a cheerful canvas out of what might otherwise be an endless-seeming eyesore all along the road. In doing so, the murals have an opportunity to relieve some of the stress of these new streets for the people looking at them every day. That’s the glass half full perspective, anyways.
Details on Barrier Beautification from the DOT website:
Over the past few years, DOT Art has collaborated with New York Cares and a number of professional artists to produce 25 temporary murals on barrier sites around the City. Twice a year in fall and spring, individual artists are invited to submit proposals in response to an open call and associated deadline. DOT provides selected artists with a design honorarium in the amount of $2,000 and a materials fee of $500 to cover costs to produce stencils. DOT and NY Cares cover the cost of paint and associated materials. Volunteers from NY Cares and other local organizations assist selected artists with painting the designs on a single Saturday each season. DOT selects sites based upon community requests for beautification. Selected artists are assigned a site in one of the five boroughs. All applicants must submit a conceptual design and examples of past work for consideration.