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Sullivant Avenue Public Art Project Prepares Hilltop Residents for Improvements, ‘Brightens Up’ Area

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Sullivant Avenue Public Art Project Prepares Hilltop Residents for Improvements, ‘Brightens Up’ AreaPhoto by Taijuan Moorman.
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Along with the $10 million in improvements on Sullivant Avenue — including new sidewalks, improved streetlights, traffic signals, bus bulbs and parklets set to be underway next year — is a $200,000 public art project to get residents ready for the changes, and liven up the street.

Sullivant Bright is a project by Designing Local in partnership with the City of Columbus Department of Public Service, and includes temporary murals illustrating where the permanent infrastructure improvements to Sullivant Avenue will be. The project also including temporary chalk art poetry and a few long-term murals in the area.

The work for phase one, dubbed Sullivant Brighter Days, is set to be installed throughout this week.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said the project is a “critical part of us delivering on the Envision Hilltop plan that the neighborhood and community helped develop,” and that the city hopes to bring similar projects to other neighborhoods in the future.

15 visual artists will paint 13 murals, while five poets will install their own original work to sidewalks throughout Hague to Ryan avenues. Featured artists include Francesca Miller, April Sunami, Bryant Anthony, Stephanie Rond and the nonprofit Community Refugee & Immigration Services. Featured poets include Barbara Font and Amy Turn Sharp.

Amanda Golden, managing principal for Designing Local, said the project has been in progress for over a year, and that as far as she knows, the project is the largest tactical urbanism project in the state.

Residents were able to provide input on the project and will be able to do so again for a second phase, which will include a permanent mural at the I-70 underpass bridge.

The short-term murals will be up for about a year until construction begins, while the poems will last less than a few months, but may be used again for the project’s second phase.

The long-term murals will be located at Burroughs Elementary School and Whitethorne Avenue. Those murals are in areas that will not frequently be driven over and are expected to last up to five years.

Designing Local has been working with Burroughs elementary’s principal, Laura Schnebelen, and that mural has grown to include a design commemorating the school’s 100th anniversary and will include the school’s mascot, the bee. An event later this month will connect the project’s featured artists and kids, as well as Burroughs summer program students, who will also get a chance to install their own poetry.

“This is what a collaborative effort looks like to make our city beautiful, make our communities a safe space, a welcoming space, and it’s just an honor to be a part of this,” said Miller. “It could [not be] a better fitting name for it to be called Sullivant Bright because that is truly what community art does, it brightens up our spaces.”

Zerqa Abid, chair of the Great Hilltop Area Commission’s Public Safety Committee as well as the founder and executive director of My Project USA, a nonprofit serving refugee, immigrant, underserved and underprivileged children, spoke of the project and how it will enhance the creativity of children in the neighborhood as well as their feeling of belonging.

“We long for providing healthy and clean environment to our children and families in this area, and in this context, we welcome the Sullivant Bright initiative,” said Abid.

Hilltop residents can give feedback on phase two of the project at sullivantbright.com.

June 9, 4 p.m.: This article has been updated to include additional information on funding and participating artists for the Sullivant Bright project.

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