East Lawrence intersection mural up for final city approval

A final design by Lawrence artists Alicia Kelly and Katy Clagett for the mural that may be applied directly to the intersection of 10th and New Jersey street, pending City Commission approval.

While living in Portland, Ore., Lawrence artist Alicia Kelly became captivated by the city’s intersection murals — flowers, suns and other designs painted directly onto the street.

When Kelly moved back to Lawrence, she wanted to bring that concept, called “intersection repair,” with her. And now, her idea — what she thinks is the Midwest’s first intersection mural — is about to come to fruition.

Pending City Commission approval Tuesday, Kelly and another Lawrence artist, Katy Clagett, will shut down the intersection of 10th and New Jersey streets on April 23 for a “painting party.”

“When I lived in Portland for a short time, I was in love with them,” Kelly said. “I remember riding my bike over them and just stopping and looking down. I had never seen anything like it. I was thinking ‘Lawrence needs something like that.'”

The 10th and New Jersey intersection was chosen so it can act as an introduction to East Lawrence, Kelly said.

The project received a $1,500 arts grant from the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission about this time last year. The total cost of the project is $3,450.

It has received approval from the New York Elementary School principal, the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association, the Traffic Safety Commission and the Historic Resources Commission. On Tuesday, the City Commission will be asked to issue a permit allowing Kelly and Clagett to shut down the intersection on Earth Day, with April 30 as a backup day in case of rain.

The mural will be painted with traffic-marking paint mixed with hazelnut shells. The shells add grit to the paint, so the pavement isn’t slippery when wet.

The “painting party” is expected to draw hundreds of volunteers. There will be food, live music and other activities, as a way to bring the community together, Kelly said.

According to Seattle’s department of transportation website, intersection painting is used there to add a sense of place and organize neighborhoods around a common goal. Traffic calming is an indirect effect, the website states.

In coming up with the design, Kelly and Clagett held three community meetings to receive input. After about 15 iterations, the duo decided on a final design that will be presented to the City Commission on Tuesday.

They wanted to keep it simple and symmetrical, but “playful,” because of its proximity to New York Elementary School. A bricklike element running north and south is meant to be reminiscent of the old trolley line from the early 1900s.

City commissioners will meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The mural agreement is on the commission’s consent agenda, meaning it will be approved unless a commissioner pulls it for discussion.