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Vacant Funeral Home Gets a Symbolic Facelift Courtesy of Artist Valerie Theberge and Creative Citizens in Mount Rainier, MD. Read more

pledged of $7,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on April 27, 2012.

Vacant Funeral Home Gets a Symbolic Facelift Courtesy of Artist Valerie Theberge and Creative Citizens in Mount Rainier, MD.

About this project

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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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    14 backers Limited (486 left of 500)

    Paint People! You get a hug and a paint brush on April 28 to help us go from vacant to vibrant on Rhode Island Avenue.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    21 backers Limited (79 left of 100)

    Bucket Brigade! You're willing to carry water for this project. You get a limited edition 2012 Better Block Bucket to display prominently on your front porch.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    24 backers Limited (26 left of 50)

    Design Divas! You love to feel good inside and out and you know this project will brighten our street corner and our spirits. You get a stylish 2012 Better Block t-shirt to show your support.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    7 backers Limited (18 left of 25)

    Power Washers! You drive up and down Rhode Island Avenue and it makes you want to wax on and wax off. Miyagi have hope for you, kid. You get a chance to share your infinite wisdom in this year's Better Block video.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    3 backers Limited (7 left of 10)

    Mark Makers! You know this project will make a difference for the Gateway Arts District and you want your name on it. We'll have a custom stencil of your name and the spot to spray it on when you arrive on April 28.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers Limited (2 left of 5)

    Creative Collaborators! You know this temporary public art project is just one example of the creative capacity in Mount Rainier. You're excited about our new development and want to attract great partners to the Gateway Arts District. You probably don't want much in return, but we'll give you a hug, a brush, a bucket, a t-shirt, a name stencil, a spot in the video, and our sincere gratitude.

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Funding period

- (39 days)