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HUNTINGTON — Highlawn, West Huntington and Fairfield residents will soon see a colorful addition to their streets.

Huntington was one of 26 U.S. cities to receive an Asphalt Arts Initiative grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies last year. The grant is worth up to $25,000. The art projects are to be reflective of the neighborhoods they will be installed in.

The locations of the public art pieces were announced last year. They are:

  • Asphalt art on crosswalks in front of Memphis Tennessee Garrison House on 17th Avenue and 10th Street.
  • Installation of art along 14th Street West. The specific location has not been identified.
  • Asphalt art on four crosswalks in front of Highlawn Elementary on Collis Avenue and 26th Street.

One artist will work on the three murals with community input. What they will look like is still to be determined. The murals will be installed in late summer. The grant was awarded to the Foundation for the Tri-State.

Mayor Steve Williams, his Mayor’s Council on the Arts and the city’s Public Works Department have worked on the program.

Margaret Mary Layne, the chair of the arts council, said the request for proposals is due March 31. Because asphalt art is a newer concept, a workshop was held for over 30 artists across West Virginia and eastern Kentucky to learn the process. Potentially, they could bring the technique to their own towns as well.

“While each neighborhood has its own culture and its own heritage, the methodologies to be used in each neighborhood will end up being fairly similar in terms of engaging the residents in that neighborhood in the development and actual creation and painting of the project,” Layne said.

A community meeting was recently held for the Fairfield mural. RaShad Sanders, the executive director of the Fairfield Community Development Corp., said ahead of the meeting that he hopes the future piece near the Memphis Tennessee Garrison House will bring attention to the area, both for pedestrians in the area and to the historic houses in the neighborhood.

“My grandmother lived on that street for over 40 years. I never knew that Tennessee Garrison’s home was on that corner. And that’s just me growing up as a young man in that community. I didn’t understand the impact that she had and the influence that she had on me as a young Black male,” Sanders said. “She’s a very key person in history, and I also think that it’s going to go great in correlation with the Hal Greer Corridor project.”

Lauren Kemp, the executive director of RenewAll Inc., said the West End piece will complement a renovation of a nearby gazebo on 14th Street West. As part of the grant application, photos from a temporary sidewalk painting event in the West End were used, she added.

“The art and the colors and, like, the whole process are hopefully going to make people think differently about the spaces,” she said.

In an email, executive director of the Highlawn Alliance Zane Parsley said the project in that neighborhood is planned to be completed before the fall semester begins at Marshall University. After an artist is selected, community meetings will be held so feedback can be given on the plan and design.

“Our goal is to create a design that accurately reflects the history, culture and priorities of the Highlawn Community, while simultaneously slowing traffic at a busy pedestrian intersection,” Parsley wrote.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering local government in Huntington and Cabell County. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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