Artistic crosswalks coming to Spearfish

There will be some artistically painted crosswalks within Spearfish later this summer, as this rendering shows some of the proposed designs for the Grant and Canyon streets crosswalks. Courtesy image

SPEARFISH — In order to test the durability of crosswalk paint, informally test and evaluate community interest in an appreciation of projects, increase community participation in making public art, and increase the presence of semi-permanent public art, the Spearfish City Council Monday approved a request to allow for the artistic painting of crosswalks at three locations within the city.

Elizabeth Freer, ArtCentral manager at Matthews Opera House and Art Center, explained that the project is part of the two-year 2016 Bush Foundation Community Innovation Grant awarded that funds committee and community education through forums, community-focused art installations, free additive-art installations or projects, ongoing and regular community communications, and implementing integrated projects that work across several community organizations. A 17-member committee meets monthly, with the community collaboration focused on centralizing the arts as an integrated asset for inclusivity, economic development, and outreach in Spearfish.

Freer described that the request was the first step in testing whether the artistic crosswalks would be well-received, hold up to the normal wear and tear, etc., to determine whether to expand the project in the future.

The three locations proposed are the crosswalk on Canyon Street near the tennis courts in Spearfish City Park; the four crosswalks at the intersection of Grant and Canyon streets; and a crosswalk on the Black Hills State University campus, a proposal currently under discussion with the university.

The responsibilities of the project would be divided: The city would paint standard crosswalk markings, meeting code requirements, and ArtCenter would provide the paint to go within the lines in the artistic installations. The artwork would either wear away over time or be maintained by the artist or ArtCentral, Freer said.

At the Grant and Canyon streets crosswalks, the designs, developed by BHSU Professor Michael Baum, would be based on original Sol LeWitt wall drawings, seen in the courtesy image on page 2, with the colors and patterns simplified. Freer said that the installations are designed to be fun and light-hearted, and the patterns would be drawn in chalk first by Baum, and then painted with street paint by community members. The plan is to have traffic access maintained during the installation, reduced to one side of the road using traffic cones, etc.

Freer said that the design on Canyon Street near the city park is still being developed, but it would likely have a geometric fish-themed pattern to play into the name of the community, the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives, etc.

Freer added that the crosswalk painting timeline would be weather dependent and depend on when the city gets the initial crosswalks repainted, but the hope is that the artistic installations would be placed on the streets in the month of June.

The council unanimously approved the request.

“Thank you for your support,” Freer said.

For more information, contact Freer at

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