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Sykesville planning to debut crosswalk art piece, first part of Urban Transformation project

Sykesville planning to debut crosswalk art piece, first part of Urban Transformation project
Robin Culkin of Woodbine paints the crosswalk at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Baldwin Drive in Sykesville, part of the Urban Transformation project, on Friday, June 21. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Two local artists have been working for the past two weeks on a pavement art project dedicated to the Town of Sykesville.

The nonprofit Downtown Sykesville Connection has started a three-fold Urban Transformation project. Part One of the project includes crosswalk art depicting what makes Sykesville “the coolest small town in America.” Artists Vivian Davis and Robin Culkin have been working for about two weeks, though it was initially only supposed to take three days.

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“We’ve done six-hour days, but this week, unfortunately, we can only work a couple here and there because of the pending rain, which didn’t always happen,” Davis said. “With street paint, you have to have several hours before it has to be completely dry when you paint, or otherwise moisture gets in there and the paint will end up chipping off easier. It can’t be rained on for several hours. So, if there’s more than a 10 percent chance of rain predicted, we backed off.”

The street art can be found in the crosswalk directly across from French Twist Café. The crosswalk art spells out “Sykesville” using different images that depicts different aspects of the town. For example, the “E” is composed of books, representing the nearby A Likely Story Bookstore.

Robin Culkin of Woodbine paints the crosswalk at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Baldwin Drive in Sykesville on Friday as part of the Urban Transformation Project.
Robin Culkin of Woodbine paints the crosswalk at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Baldwin Drive in Sykesville on Friday as part of the Urban Transformation Project. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

The project started out as a small request, which Vivian took and made into a literal work of art.

“We wanted something that was a lot more personalized,” said Julie Della-Maria, executive director of Downtown Sykesville Connection. “One night, super early, Vivian texted me or messaged me and she’s like, ‘You know what? This is what we should do.’ And she had an outline, not completed, but an outline, and I’m like, ‘Yes, you’re right.’ It’s why we let the artists do their work — it’s not my role.”

Art has been a part of Davis’ and Culkin’s lives for as long as they can remember, and they find it important to spread to others.

“Getting art out, especially to young people, has always been really important to me because, I’ll give you an example, in Carroll County middle schools, the students only get one quarter of art,” said Davis, mother of two artists. “Now for the students that don’t particularly care that much, that’s fine. If you have a creative child, they get one quarter to work on that creativity. It just makes no sense to me.”

“Art is just a part of your personality,” Culkin said. “So, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had either a box of Crayola crayons in my hand and then worked up to painting, pastels and everything else — it’s just a part of who you are.”

Vivian Davis, right, of Sykesville and Robin Culkin of Woodbine paint the crosswalk at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Baldwin Drive in Sykesville, part of the Urban Transformation Project in Sykesville Friday June 21, 2019.
Vivian Davis, right, of Sykesville and Robin Culkin of Woodbine paint the crosswalk at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Baldwin Drive in Sykesville, part of the Urban Transformation Project in Sykesville Friday June 21, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Davis loves doing scenic art, like the crosswalk piece.

“I like putting art everywhere, on walls, on the ground, on buildings, wherever,” Davis said. “With scenic paintings, you get these huge, large canvases to work on, which is exciting and people love that; people love art.”

According to Davis, even with the piece not done yet, they have already been getting a bunch of compliments on the piece.

The two other projects planned as part of the Urban Transformation initiative will be a farm scene by Dominic Jones and a portrait of a garden by Benjamin McCord, both of which are still in their early stages.

There are currently no immediate plans for more crosswalk art pieces, Della-Maria said, especially with the trickiness of closing off streets to paint the crosswalks.

According to Della-Maria, the crosswalk project should be ready soon, depending on the weather.

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