Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Guerrilla street-art project in Elizabeth meant to slow down shortcut drivers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 5:12 PM

A group of neighbors in Elizabeth came together on Sunday to create a guerrilla street art installation that not only looks awesome but that they hope will make them safer while walking and cycling on the roads. 

Neighbors that live near the intersection of Sunnyside and Oaklawn avenues spent a total of around 13 hours over the weekend creating a sun painting at the intersection roundabout. The painting is an attempt to slow down cars that speed through trying to cut between Hawthorne and Central avenues. 

Local artist Felicia Sutton, a former resident of the neighborhood, designed the sun and helped sketch the design with chalk on Saturday night, which took three hours in itself. The next morning, Sutton and the surrounding neighbors literally hit the street at 7:30 a.m. and began painting. Sunday's work took about 10 hours total, with one break, and the painting was finished at around 5:30 p.m. 

"I personally was super excited about the project because I feel like art — especially public art — at its best is something that can unite a community and that everyone can be a part of and everyone can experience," Sutton said. "Being able to do a project where everybody pitched in and everybody worked on it — we all got together and everyone was working together and the kids came out and painted — it was a really great community activity and brought everyone in the neighborhood closer too. So it was not only a way to make everyone safer but a way to unite the neighborhood." 

Although the amateur street artists didn't exactly get permission from the city, Sutton believes the sun will stay where it is, especially considering one surprise guest who showed up in support on Sunday afternoon after hearing about the work they were doing: Mayor Jennifer Roberts. 

Sutton said she was happy to see Roberts and be able to discuss Charlotte's art scene with her. 

"I wasn’t expecting her. One of the people in the neighborhood had told her about it. I’m still not sure why she showed up but it was cool that she was there," Sutton said. "It was a nice little surprise. We talked for a little bit about public art and how beautifying spaces that are rundown or public spaces like the one we were at can be something that’s really powerful." 

CL contributor Grant Baldwin was on hand for some of the day's festivities and shot the following slide show (below). Sutton can be seen in many of the photos in a gray tank top and blue hat. 

Correction: The original post said this project was done in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. It is actually in Elizabeth.

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