Mad River Union
ARCATA – It’s not unusual to see sidewalk art in early October at Pastels on the Plaza, but since spring, Arcata has also been graced with more permanent educational sidewalk art thanks to the City of Arcata’s Recreation Division’s Downstream Designs public works project.
These additions to Arcata’s artscape are the result of Downstream Designs, an educational program that uses art to communicate the function and importance of storm drains and storm water pollution prevention. Through a call for submissions, three artists were selected along with a group of youth participants to paint vibrant educational storm drain murals to create awareness about watershed pollution and the role of community members in preventing pollution.
The purpose of Downstream Designs is to draw attention to storm drains and raise awareness about storm water pollution. Even in eco-conscious Arcata, an alarming amount of litter finds its way into storm drains directly into Jolly Giant, Campbell and other local creeks, several of which flow through the Arcata Marsh Sanctuary and all into the Humboldt Bay and beyond.
Downstream Designs was funded by a grant from the California Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail License Plate Program. The grant also funded the Watershed Warriors youth program that took place during April and May and included a field trip to the Mad River Fish Hatchery, a creek clean up at Shay Park, kayaking on Humboldt Bay and a trip to the Friends of the Dunes
Nature Center and beach along with other related environmental education lessons and reflective art pieces. The project culminated with youth participants designing and painting their own storm drain mural on Alliance Road near 17th Street.
A call for artists was put out for the three other storm drain murals located on north G Street, Seventh Street and on the Arcata Plaza at Eighth and H streets. These sites were all selected for their high visibility and the amount of pedestrian and bike traffic. The city received 22 submissions that were judged by a panel of representatives from Arcata Recreation, the city’s Wetlands and Creeks and Parks and Recreation committees, Arcata Main Street and the Creamery District.
Artists Raphael Leiblum (north G Street), Tori McConnell (Seventh Street) and Gina Tuzzi (Arcata Plaza) each received a $500 stipend for their work.
Their projects will be officially unveiled on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in conjunction with the Arcata Farmers’ Market. Participants can begin on the Arcata Plaza at the City of Arcata booth on the corner of Eight and H streets, where they will receive Downstream Designs walking tour brochures. From there, they can visit each of the mural sites where they will have a chance to meet the artists and take part in other educational activities.