A new form of artistic drive

A downtown Red Deer intersection could become a blank canvas for creativity as part of this summer’s Art Alley project.

A downtown Red Deer intersection could become a blank canvas for creativity as part of this summer’s Art Alley project.

The Red Deer Downtown Business Association is looking at taking street art quite literally onto the street.

Intersecting roadways could be painted with various colourful designs as they have in Portland, Ore., Christchurch, New Zealand, and other artsy communities. The project, which still needs approval from various City of Red Deer departments, would add another dimension to Red Deer’s Art Alley project, said co-ordinator Steve Woolrich.

Intersection art has a traffic calming effect, and also draws more pedestrian traffic, added Woolrich, who’s president of Rethink Urban, a company that explores creative ways to enhance public spaces. “It would be another great project, for sure.”

Woolrich has co-ordinated the Art Alley project for the past three years. That project has local artists painting building murals in alleyways behind the John Howard Society and Fratters, and along the bar strip just north of the downtown firehall.

Last year, Art Alley funding from the City of Red Deer and Red Deer Downtown Business Association totalled $10,000. This year, the city reallocated its portion of the funding to another project, and Art Alley has only $3,000 from the Downtown Business Association.

Woolrich said $3,000 doesn’t go very far, but would cover the cost of the intersection art, as well as possibly another small mural. Neither location has been decided.

Woolrich was thinking of Little Gaetz and Alexander Way as a possibility for the intersection. But he said city departments would have to be on board, as the street would have to be closed to traffic while the art is being done.

The painting would only last on the road surface for up to three years, and would be covered by snow for part of the year.

But other communities have also been designing dynamic intersections. It’s just another way of beautifying the downtown and attracting people into the city centres, said Amanda Gould, executive-director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association.

Organizers are hoping a group of local artists can start on the Art Alley projects by mid-July.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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