Richmond Seeks to Paint the Drains

FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2016

It’s not so unusual to find artists painting murals on the sides of buildings, bridge abutments, roadway barriers or water towers. But can you make art out of storm drains?

The City of Richmond, VA, has put a call out to area artists to add some color to the storm drains in its downtown area, the local CBS affiliate reported.

The competition, which will award slots to five painters, has an environmental message at heart: to raise awareness about the importance of clean streets and waterways.

Storm Drain Art

The Storm Drain Art Project is the brainchild of a program called RVAH20, an initiative of the Richmond Department of Public Utilities that seeks to educate the community about ways to keep area waterways pollution-free.

RVAH20 also works to emphasize the importance of integrating drinking water, wastewater and stormwater under one watershed management program so the community can “achieve cleaner water faster,” its website says.

With those goals in mind, the program invites Richmond artists over the age of 18 to submit their storm drain designs based on the theme “It All Drains to the James.”

Artists will be working in an area approximately 138 inches long and between 37 and 51 inches wide that includes both concrete and the metal manhole cover. The painted design is permitted to extend one foot out into the street itself, but all designs are to run up to or incorporate the drain itself.

The city will provide non-slip paint for the project, as well as basic brushes and water tubs, although the artists may use their own tools as well.

Their creative concepts should demonstrate the importance of clean rivers and clean drinking water while ultimately reminding the public that any pollutants that go into city storm drains ultimately get carried into  Richmond's waterways.

All five of the storm drains targeted for paint jobs actually carry stormwater directly into the James River and the city’s water supply, in fact.

“Stormwater is our nation’s number-one source of surface water pollution,” Robert Steidel, director of Richmond’s DPU, told CBS 6.

“The James River is Richmond’s greatest natural asset, and we hope the Storm Drain Art Project will help citizens visually understand the importance of clean water and the impact of stormwater runoff, because ‘It all drains to the James.'”

Project Timeline

The deadline for entries is May 30 at midnight ET.

Judges from the Richmond Public Art Commission will choose five artists to implement their vision, and those artists will receive $300 to put toward their materials, time and work.

Winners will be announced June 15 and painting will take place before the end of that month.

Voting for the RVA Choice award, special recognition to one of the five artists that voters like best, will open to the public via Instagram July 1.



Tagged categories: Coating Application; Contests; Murals; North America; Paint application; Painting competitions; potable water; Public spaces; Roads/Highways; Utilities

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