By Alyssa Schnugg
Several Oxford-University Transit bus shelters around Oxford will soon feature the artwork of local artists.
The city of Oxford has partnered with local artists for a new pop-up public art project entitled “The Shelter Show.”
Artwork by Sarah Frances Hardy, Anne Scott Barrett, Frank Estrada and Kara Giles – the designer of the recently approved Magnolia Flag design – have been selected to be temporarily installed as small murals on selected OUT bus shelters throughout the city.
The first bus shelter to be painted is located off Bramlett Boulevard near the Armory Pavilion. The first shelter was designed by Hardy and includes four colorful characters wearing face masks with the words “Mask Up” above them.
As a children’s book illustrator, I’m constantly doodling and creating characters,” Hardy said. “Since we’ve all been asked to wear masks in public spaces, I started making illustrations of children wearing them. And since there were people resistant to wearing masks, I thought it would be fun to introduce my fierce little redheaded girl demanding people to “mask up.” When I posted her on social media, people loved her determined spirit (and fashion sense), so I kept going with the series. I created a total of seven characters.”
The project was the idea of Earl Dismuke, a local artist that specializes in public art.
“Earl contacted me with a fun idea of utilizing the bus stops for public art,” said Mayor Robyn Tannehill Tuesday during the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting. “We’re really excited about this project and I hope it will put a smile on peoples’ faces because we could all use one.”
Artists were asked to submit works that were indicative of the current COVID-19 environment and/or featured an uplifting message.
The bus stops that will be utilized are located at University and McLarty Road, in front of the Skate Park on Bramlett Boulevard, in front of the OUT Facility on McElroy Drive and at 800 Park on College Hill Road. More locations and artists may be added.
Artist Anne Scott Barrett said she thought of her design before the Shelter Show idea was presented to her.
“I started thinking about a public art poster when it became clear that people were having a hard time with wearing masks,” she said. “I wanted to come up with a message that would be complimentary, kind and encouraging instead of something clinical and condescending.”
She thought of her friend, the late Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro and wondered what he would have said about the situation.
“I could hear him say in my mind, ‘Your eyes are gorgeous,’” Barrett said. “I set about designing something with pop and drama so it would draw people into the message.”
After designing the poster, she started putting them up all over town and on social media. Now, she receives photos of the poster hanging up all over the county and as far away as Poland.
“I like to think the design has made a little difference in the way in which people approach wearing masks,” she said. “ I’m ecstatic to see the design included with the work of my fellow Oxford artists in large format on our local bus stops. I’m thrilled that Oxford has embraced us and our abilities to turn a tough situation into an opportunity to express love and togetherness.”