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  • Writer's picturePatrice Drago

ArtWalk’s Crosswalks – Tactical Urbanism

I just participated in a public art project that I knew would be huge and wonderful.  I just didn’t know the scale of it until we were finished.

Public Art takes many forms.  Our project falls under a narrower term of “Tactical Urbanism”.  Wikipedia’s definition:

Tactical urbanism is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually in cities, intended to improve local neighbourhoods and city gathering places.[1] Tactical Urbanism is also commonly referred to as guerilla urbanism, pop-up urbanism, city repair, or D.I.Y. urbanism.

“ArtWalk’s Crosswalks” was designed to bring visibility to a heavily trafficked intersection, reminding people to slow down and stop for pedestrians, as well as create a fitting entry the Annapolis Arts District. Located at the intersections of Amos Garrett Blvd and West Street (by Park Place, the danger pedestrians face at these crosswalks was evident even as we were painting, decked out in vests and cones surrounding the work area.

As with most projects, there is as much value in the development and the process as there is in the outcome. Led and coordinated by ArtWalk and Art at Large, Inc., this project has been a stellar example of collaboration of a cross-section of businesses, non-profits, public works, education and genuinely interested individuals. Relationships were built that strengthen the community – a case where 2 + 2 = 20.

A year in the making, Erin McNaboe, (Pres. and Owner of Moxe Marketing) planted the original seed over a year ago, and five of us –  Erin, Chuck Walsh (ArtWalk – a non-profit), Sally Wern Comport, Lindsay Bolin Lowry (Art At Large, Inc) and me – all now ex-board members of the Annapolis Arts District  – started working on a plan to make it happen.

The heavy lifters:  Chuck raised funds, obtained the necessary permits (no small feat!), and created connections that would be critical to the success of the project. Sally and Lindsay did every little bit of planning and logistics from researching paint that would be acceptable to creating a design based on input from magnet school high school students, developing enormous stencils and all the other millions of details that can make one’s hair hurt. The execution was amazing – assisted by the teachers of Studio 39, two recent MICA graduates and an employee of Public Works that was out every morning from 4 am with the crew, and didn’t even tell anyone he was not being paid – he was doing this on his own time.  They are all rock stars!


It has come to life and it is amazing! At the time of this blog post, the only thing that remains is to place the enormous flower pots donated by Homestead Gardens, and painted by the students of Studio 39.  With input from these students the crosswalks were designed, stenciled and painted between the stripes. There are three sidewalk 10′ diameter art circles on the corners painted freehand by artists. I painted one, Charles Lawrence of FinArt painted one, and the third painted by Sally Wern Comport of Art At Large. As a total, the project is a visual feast. A great collaboration!

We are so grateful for funding and contributions by:

Merrill Lynch, TownePark, ArtWalk Homestead Gardens, and a grant from the Arts Council of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

More pictures to follow!

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