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Mini-murals bring art to downtown traffic control boxes

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Damien Willis, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 3:51 p.m. MT Jan. 15, 2020 | Updated 5:43 p.m. MT Jan. 15, 2020

LAS CRUCES – Crews from Big Media Signs worked diligently on Tuesday to install mini-murals on traffic light control boxes in downtown Las Cruces. 

The public art project, called “Artscapes,” was unanimously approved by the city council in December.

The nine art selections, submitted by local artists with ties to the community, were chosen by a committee comprised of members from the City Art Board, the Arts and Cultural District Coordinating Council and the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership. Thirty-six entries were submitted for the project.

EVEN COOLER: Check out the Artscapes map on Google Earth.

The Downtown Las Cruces Partnership applied for and received the New Mexico Resiliency Alliance grant for $4,000, which helped fund the mural project. The Court Youth Center donated an additional $2,000 for the ArtScapes project.

The Las Cruces Arts and Cultural Coordinating Council devised the idea as a way to beautify the downtown area, organizers said.

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“Per the Arts and Cultural District’s master plan, this was one of the projects to bring more visual arts to the downtown spaces, and to beautify things that we could that were just sitting there,” said Jennifer Garcia Kozlowski, executive director of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership.

Irene Oliver-Lewis, a founding member of the Arts and Cultural District and president of Court Youth Center, said there are ripple effects when you create an artful environment.

“When you create an artful environment, people start looking at things differently,” she told the Sun-News. “It brings creativity to their soul and their output. What we want to create in the Arts and Cultural District is a creative economy.”

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All of the artists selected for the first phase of the project have connections to the downtown area, Oliver-Lewis said. As the project expands, juried shows will target other artists.

“We may want a group that are just (designed by) youth artists,” she explained, adding that she envisions it expanding to other areas of the city. “There are all sorts of possibilities. We really hope this is a pilot for the rest of the city.”

The wraps cost $640 each and will last roughly five years, according to the art board. The Arts and Cultural District will assume all costs and will provide 10 percent of the conservation costs with a donation to the Las Cruces Public Art Conservation Fund — a City Art Board requirement for donated art. No city funds will be used to pay for the project.

Damien Willis is a Lead Reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, dwillis@lcsun-news.com or @DamienWillis on Twitter.

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