Storm drain artists sought for 2014 Upstream Art project

Bill Ward works to paint a drain inlet near the Fayetteville Public Library.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer Staff

Upstream Art is seeking artists to paint 12 storm drains with educational messages in Washington and Benton counties.

The public art and awareness project, now in its third year, seeks to remind people that water entering storm drains ends up in local streams.

“Many people think these storm drains are tied into the sanitary sewer system, where water is treated before being returned to the environment,” said Jane Maginot, extension urban stormwater educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “This leads to people dumping oil, grease, and other trash into the drains.”

A red cave salamander brightens up the storm drain artwork painted as part of the 2012 UpStream Art project. The work, by Arkansas EnergyCoprs member Lean Saffian, can be seen at Frisco Trail and Maple Ave. in Fayetteville.

Photo courtesy Serina Wilkins

However, all of those pollutants, plus whatever the water picks up as it washes across parking lots and roadways, flows directly into area waterways, she said.

“Our hope is that the art will help raise awareness of the purpose of these drains and help reduce the amount of pollution returned directly to the environment,” Maginot said.

Five storm drains in Fayetteville, four in Springdale, two in Bentonville and one in Bella Vista are slated for murals in 2014. They will add to the existing 19 storm drains already painted across the region.

Artists are invited to join the effort by submitting an application by March 14. Applications may be obtained by contacting Maginot at 479-444-1755 or [email protected].

Fayetteville Underground will host a kickoff reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at its gallery space at 101 W. Mountain Street on the Fayetteville square. Project representatives and previous artists will be on hand to answer questions and show off the previous years’ art.

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