Art About Town 2011

North Adams The Crosswalks Project

By: - May 01, 2011

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The clouds were iffy and now and then it sprinkled but all in all it was a day of cooperative weather.

North Adams artists, Gail and Phil Sellers, of River Hill Pottery have been involved with a series of public art projects under the umbrella organization Art About Town.

Yesterday they gathered a crew to paint free form variations on designs by Sol LeWitt in front of Mass MoCA. If you are on your way to the museum, or just driving by, it is a whimsical invention that neatly connects the dots between the vast contemporary art museum and a community of surrounding artists.

“Our idea is to get artists out of their studios and into the streets” Sellers said. It was the end of an exhausting day and months of planning. But he was elated at how well it went and the cooperation of the city from Mayor Dick Albcombright, community activist, Glen Maloney of Develop North Adams (DNA), Safety Commissioner, John Morocco, police officer, Dave Sacco and Tim Lescarbeau of City Services.

To secure some 18 gallons of high tech, durable paint, the kind required to paint stripes in cross walks, Sellers approached Bob Blair of Greenberg Hardware in North Adams. Through a sales rep the paint was donated by the manufacturer Pittsburgh Paint and Glass (PPG).

Of this stash some 6 gallons were consumed today. There are 24 crosswalks in the city and the plan is to paint all of them in different designs at public events during the summer season.

The effort today gives everyone a hint of what is to follow.

“We are keeping the designs simple as we have a limited palette of the primary colors red, yellow and blue plus white” Sellers said. “Today we used up all of the yellow.”

To execute the project there was a crew of volunteers that worked from 8:30 in the morning through the late afternoon. They worked for food, in this case sheets of pizza.

The painters included  high school students, Jude Dirchs, Anthony Follett and Michelle Johnson, three from MCLA, Shauna Bacus, Sebastian Waldron, Peter Swain, the artists Barbara May, Vin and Michelle Jensen, Dawn Nelson, Phil and Gail Sellers and City Counselor, Lisa Blackmer and her husband Bill Blackmer.

They were working on a busy cross walk with a police officer directing traffic. As drivers paused in their cars or pedestrians waited the painters got lots of encouragement. Everyone seemed interested in the bright and lively project.

The Cross Walks project will continue through the summer season. The painting will be coordinated with city events. The hope is to have the experience seen and enjoyed by the community.

The project is intended to give a sense of the mega undertaking planned for next summer. For the past year Sellers and his Art About Town group have been working with the city, Mass MoCA, and the renowned artist Sidewalk Sam. The plan is to create a design that will be visible from space covering some 92,000 square feet in the parking lot across the street from the Mass MoCA campus. It represents a quest for a world record and will entail hundreds of volunteers.

It will put North Adams on the map. From Outer Space. Like the Pyramids and Great Wall of China.


“Everyone was tickled pink at how it looks” Sellers said at the end of a busy day. Well, actually, yellow and white. Maybe pink next time.