The Vinton Street corridor is a hidden treasure of Omaha. The art galleries, restaurants, and people that occupy the district are unique for their vibrancy, culture, and talent. We would like to exemplify the extraordinary character of Vinton Street through a project that does not showcase one artist’s vision. Unlike many other streetscape projects, this will not impose a style from one person onto a whole community, but instead let the community speak for itself. We will do this by creating ten concrete totems that will be installed up and down the sidewalks along Vinton. Each totem will be painted by a Omaha artist, with preference given to those who live, work, or exhibit near Vinton St. This conglomerate of artistic voices will give the street a lively exciting atmosphere. A visitor walking down the street will get a sample of the many characters that make the community thrive, each totem giving a different perspective on the neighborhood. The simple cylindrical totems will provide a steady rhythm of forms dotting the street for the artists to layer their distinct melodies on top of. The combination of simplicity of form and complexity of design will unify the corridor while providing a feast for the senses.
A Midsummer’s Mural has invested our last three summers working on the South Omaha Mural Project. We have become familiar with its distinct neighborhoods, cultures, and people. Our murals aim to highlight the voices of the people who live in South Omaha through in depth conversation and collaboration. We have spent many months meeting with Polish, Lithuanian, Mexican, and Czech communities in order to ensure that the artwork that we create in their communities speaks to their experiences. We are in love with the people and values we have learned so much about through this process, and we want the feeling of South Omaha to be preserved in all of its public art projects. We are submitting this project in hopes that your committees will also see the value in representing the artistic voices of the community so that the feeling in South Omaha will stay authentic.
We will issue a call for artists by October 17th that will be open to all Omaha artists, but with preference given to those who live, work, or exhibit near Vinton St. These submissions can be reviewed and judged by the Vinton Street Arts Committee if they would like input on the artists selected. Artists will be selected by November 1st and receive $100. The ten artists selected will then each be given a 5’ by 7’ piece of parachute cloth on which to paint their designs. The fabric and means of application will be identical to the technique Meg Saligman used on pieces of the Fertile Ground mural near T.D. Ameritrade Park. We have done murals using this technique on several locations including MCC south campus, Together inc. and 1010 On the Lake apartments. We will prime columns with Loxon Masonry Primer from Sherwin Williams and coat the surface with a clear gel Medium to apply the paintings. We will seal the paintings with Sher-Clear marine sealer to insure UV protection. It has estimated that the UV protection has a 35 year longevity. We can provide a workspace for artists in need of space at our new shop at 4808 s. 26th St. Artists will be required to finish their paintings by November 15th. Paintings will be adhered to columns on weather favorable days in late November. Past weather patterns show that we should have enough days to accomplish this goal.
To create the totem forms we will employ Martin Zavala of Aldo Patios, who lives and works in the vicinity and is excited to do work that will beautify his neighborhood. He is familiar with building codes and we have also been consulting with architect Ivan Vrtiska and City Planning sidewalk expert Todd Sparks. All columns will have a 42″ below ground foundation. Seven of the columns will require cuts to be made in the concrete for the foundation. On these columns we will pour a clean concrete patch to make the sidewalk seamlessly meets the columns. We will be keeping a 12″ no paint area at the bottom of the column for the sake of keeping snow and snow removal equipment away from the paint. We will be sure that there is a 4’ wide walkway where pedestrians need to walk. We have proposed columns be placed in places where benches can be added near them at a later date. Construction of totems will be finished by October 30th.
Once the project is complete we will hold an unveiling celebration along Vinton St. Visitors will be given paper ballots to vote for their three favorite totems. The first place winner will receive a prize of $500, second place $300, and third place $200. This will get the public excited about their new artworks, and provide a way for them to share their own voice about the artwork they like the best.
Our dream is that in future years, we can apply for small grants of $2,500 to allow for an annual or semi-annual competition for local artists to repaint the totems. This will allow the artworks to stay relevant to the growing and changing neighborhood as well as provide an exciting event for visitors to attend and participate in.
We will be using the best concrete for the job. We will prime columns with Loxon Masonry Primer from Sherwin Williams and coat the surface with a clear gel Medium to apply the paintings. The paintings will be made using Nova Color exterior grade acrylic paints. We will seal the paintings with Sher-Clear marine sealer to insure UV protection. We will guarantee our work for five years, but it will likely last 15 to 20.