NYC concrete barriers Photo:

We’re all familiar with New York City’s clunky concrete barriers, usually used to manage pedestrian and vehicular traffic due to long-term construction or maintenance. They’re (let’s face it) ugly.

The City hopes to remedy that with an expanded public art initiative. The Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) filed a formal Request for Proposal seeking local artists to beautify NYC construction/street barriers and plans on selecting an artist to oversee a project in each of the five boroughs.

This is an expansion of the program’s previous scope, which was limited to just one borough at a time. First launched in 2010 with the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU) and New York Cares, the program has generated substantial community interest over the years.

Last fall, New York artist Jessie Contour was selected to design and oversee a sprawling mural at the barrier site along Vernon Boulevard between 31st Avenue and 40th Avenue in Queens. Over 30 New York Cares volunteers joined the effort to reimagine the concrete barriers with bright colorful imagery in a piece called “Jazz City.”

Selected artists not only get their work produced by a team of volunteers, they also receive an honorarium. Each selected artist will receive $2,500 to complete their final design, including production of stencils to translate the design. Artists will also each receive a $500 stipend to cover the cost of materials.

The deadline for artist submissions is February 19th and artists will be selected in the beginning of March. If new barrier sites become available, additional artists will be included.

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