Inspired by a similar community effort in Oregon, Mount Rainier held its first Citizen Paint Project in May 2011. A sunburst and cloud design by local artist Vernon Spears was selected by City Council to paint on the road surface at 34th Street and Bunker Hill Road. On the day of the event, more than 50 citizens came out to draw the design on the intersection, paint in the colors, and enjoy the day together.
This year, our paint crew tackles a tougher transition. The old vacant funeral home that sits right on the border between Mount Rainier and the District of Columbia is an eyesore with a sad community story. It’s a marker of hard times that needs a symbolic facelift.
The City of Mount Rainier recently purchased the property to assist in assembling the urban block at the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Eastern Avenue for mixed-use development. The building will be torn down in 2014. Until then more than 25,000 vehicles will pass through each day with no idea that they just entered the Gateway Arts District.
On April 28, a citizen-powered crew will work from artist Valerie Theberge's colorful, organic design to transform the building into a welcome sign for the creative and curious. A mini-festival will fill the adjacent parking lot with workshops on green and creative living, a specialty recycling center, youth activities, local food, and a performance stage. Across the street, the windows of the Funkhauser Building will turn into one-day-only art galleries.
It's all part of Better Block, led by Joe's Movement Emporium in partnership with Gateway CDC, City of Mount Rainier and the Mount Rainier Business Association. Better Block is an annual event that draws its formula from the national movement of the same name. Last year, downtown Mount Rainier became the site of 18 pop-up galleries, outdoor performances, and creative window installations in local shops who saw an eight-fold increase in business on that one day.
Better Block collaborates with artists and downtown businesses, and receives generous support from Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, BB&T, Bradco Supply, Busboys and Poets, Community Forklift, Councilmember Will Campos, Duron Paint, Hair Cuttery, Home Depot, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, ShelfGenie, and Sherwin Williams.
We need you to fill in the color! Help us raise $7000 to transform our public space from vacant to vibrant, mark the entrance to the Gateway Arts District, and paint a picture of the amazing creative community that lives here. Once we make our goal, we’ll pay it forward to the next project. In fact, Joe's Movement Emporium is in the running for a prestigious national grant from ArtPlace. Your support for Citizen Paint will show them we have the momentum!
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