Durham, NC— Three vibrant Art-Deco inspired pedestrian crosswalk designs will be installed on Downtown Durham’s Blackwell, Corcoran and Foster Streets on November 19 – 21, 2019. The ground plane art is the third major project of the Durham SmART Vision Plan — connecting the cultural hubs/districts in downtown Durham through creative placemaking. Local artist Mary Carter Taub designed the Pedestrian Crosswalk installations for three locations: American Tobacco Campus at Blackwell/Vivian St., Durham Armory to Marriott/Convention Center on Foster Street; and Durham Central Park at the Farmers’ Market crossing on Foster Street. The design will be professionally applied with a specialized colored resin including non-skid aggregate in eight bright colors.
A public dedication of the Crosswalks will take place on Saturday, November 23, from 10:00 am – 12:00 noon adjacent to the crosswalk in Durham Central Park, 501 Foster Street. Artist Mary Carter Taub will be on hand to lead visitors in a free participatory “cross chalking” art project on the street. For more information, visit www.smartdurham.org.
Artist Mary Carter Taub states: “The pedestrian crosswalks are a freewheeling riff loosely inspired by Memphis design, a blend of Art Deco and Pop art, blending geometric shapes found in downtown Durham’s local Art Deco architecture with an ‘80s palette bursting with color. The crosswalks are titled Snapping!, Crackling!, and Popping! inspired by the Rice Krispies cereal characters Snap, Crackle and Pop who were created in the ‘30s, and – fast forward to the 1980s – weighed heavily in my rotation of childhood breakfast cereals. Snapping! is the American Tobacco Campus -DPAC crosswalk, Crackling! is the Armory/Marriott crosswalk and Popping! appears as the Durham Central Park crosswalk.” (See images of the designs below)
The Durham SmART Vision Plan focuses on transforming the North/South Corridor of Blackwell/Corcoran/Foster Streets through creative placemaking. The plan, created with internationally renowned urban designer and public artist Mikyoung Kim, is a multi-year, $10 million public art and urban design strategy for Durham. The North Carolina Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Durham Arts Council, City of Durham, Durham County, Capitol Broadcasting Company, Downtown Durham, Inc., Duke University, Nasher Museum of Art, and a local SmART Resource Team of key stakeholders and arts professionals are partners in planning and implementing the public art projects and place-making strategies along the SmART corridor.
DURHAM SmART PROGRAM
Durham is one of four pilot communities chosen to be part of the North Carolina Arts Council’s SmART Program, which supports arts-driven economic development projects. Since 2012, the N.C. Arts Council has provided staff resources, public art consultants and significant funds to create a plan for downtown Durham’s Blackwell, Corcoran and Foster Street corridor. The plan connects three distinct city districts along the corridor – American Tobacco, City Center and Durham Central Park respectively, and includes projects for improving pedestrian access and artfully-designed public spaces to support greater participation for residents and visitors in the rapidly transforming corridor.
The first project, the Corcoran Street Garage Art Wrap, was designed by public artist Olalekan Jeyifous. “Durham in Continuum” was completed in summer 2018, and was recognized as one of the 50 outstanding public art projects in 2018 by the Public Art Network of the Americans for the Arts.
Noa Younse and Jennifer Hiser were selected to create a second public art installation along the Durham SmART corridor titled “A Story Goes On” which is an interactive pixel wall mural in Durham Central Park. The Pedestrian Crosswalk Art is the third and current Durham SmART Vision Plan project.
SmART Vision Plan: https://files.nc.gov/ncarts/DurhamSmARTVisionPlan.pdf
Mikyoung Kim Design: http://myk-d.com/
Durham SmART Funding Partners for the Ground Plane – Pedestrian Crosswalks
Funding partners for the SmART Pedestrian Crosswalks include the National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” grant, the North Carolina Arts Council, Durham Arts Council (lead local agency), the City of Durham, Capitol Broadcasting Company/American Tobacco District; Downtown Durham, Inc., Durham County; plus technical support from Durham Area Designers, and Discover Durham, and additional public/private partners. For more information, visit www.smartdurham.org
About the Artist Mary Carter Taub
Artist Mary Carter Taub was selected for the Crosswalk project from among 27 artist applicants in the Triangle area. She conducted extensive research on the history and landscape of the downtown Durham corridor and its architecture and landscape as part of her design process. She also engaged with more than 130 community members at public events to gain feedback and inspiration for the crosswalks.
Mary Carter Taub received her MBA from the School of Global Management, Arizona State University; an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY; and a BA from Meredith College, NC. She has been selected for numerous public art projects including the Master Planning Team for new neighborhood parks in Cary, NC; Fort Worth, TX Public Art program; San Francisco Arts Commission Bay Area Discovery Museum; Nashville International Airport; Iowa Art in State Buildings Program; Scottsdale, AZ Public Art Program; the North Carolina Arts Council Mary B. Regan Community Artist grant; Piedmont Triad International Airport; City of Raleigh; Town of Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill Transit, and four projects for the Orange County Arts Commission. She has also been artist in residence at Glassmalerei Peters (Peters Studio), Paderborn, Germany; Parsons School of Design, La Romana, Dominican Republic; University of Wisconsin; and Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine. For more information, visit www.marycartertaub.com
Artist Concept Inspiration
The crosswalk designs are informed by shapes, patterns and compositional elements found in several local Art Deco buildings such as the Hill building (Sun Trust/ 21c), NC Mutual Life building and the Kress building. The decision to use a brightly colored palette was validated at a community engagement event on June 8, 2019 at the Durham Central Park Farmers’ Market; the consistent feedback was to use colors, “the brighter, the better,” and to “give life to dead intersections,” and raise safety awareness where “folks don’t know the drill for traffic patterns and pedestrian flow.” The artist created designs to visually shake up the status quo.
Crosswalk Designs are inspired by iconic buildings in downtown Durham
Hill Building 1937 KRESS Building 1933 NC MUTUAL LIFE Building left: original location 1921
Right: current location since 1968