Stream Team Decorates Burlington Storm Drains | Live Culture
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stream Team Decorates Burlington Storm Drains

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 5:10 PM

click to enlarge Mural by Jo Levasser, near Edmunds Middle School - RACHEL JONES
  • Rachel Jones
  • Mural by Jo Levasser, near Edmunds Middle School
Storm drains are generally pretty good at their job, which is to whisk rainfall away so that our cities don't become petri dishes of stagnant, standing water. This urban infrastructure is so good that most people hardly think about it — an error that the Chittenden County Stream Team seeks to correct through public art. 

Late last month, the Stream Team and four local artists fell upon Burlington storm drains, beautifying them with horizontal murals and, more importantly, making them known. 

click to enlarge Mural design by Tara Goreau - COURTESY OF CHITTENDEN COUNTY STREAM TEAM
  • Courtesy of Chittenden County Stream Team
  • Mural design by Tara Goreau

The Stream Team is a public engagement group that works under the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District. Their offerings include giving community rain garden workshops, monitoring stream quality and orchestrating local clean-ups. Last year saw the fourth annual "Connecting the Drops" exhibition, in which rain barrels were used as canvases. 
click to enlarge Mural design by Jo Levasser - COURTESY OF CHITTENDEN COUNTY STREAM TEAM
  • Courtesy of Chittenden County Stream Team
  • Mural design by Jo Levasser
This August, the Stream Team issued a call to artists to propose designs for Queen City storm drains. The goal? To get the public thinking about the local water system: where stormwater runoff goes, and what sorts of nasty things may be in it, whether it's fertilizer or sodium chloride from salt used on roads. 

"These are kind of our streams now," Holly Feiner told Seven Days by phone. Feiner is a stormwater specialist with WNRCD. She hopes that the storm drain mural project will be ongoing, replacing the previous rain barrel exhibitions. 

click to enlarge Mural design by Jess Graham - COURTESY OF CHITTENDEN COUNTY STREAM TEAM
  • Courtesy of Chittenden County Stream Team
  • Mural design by Jess Graham
Of the 10 submissions they received, the Stream Team selected four proposals from local artists Tara Goreau, Jess Graham, Max Hodgson and Jo Levasser.

Goreau's hands mural ("The health of the lake is in your hands.") is near Lyman C. Hunt Middle School in the New North End. Graham painted her graphic, fauna-filled scene at the bottom of Main Street. Cursive letters rhyme, "This drain is just for rain, it goes to our home, Lake Champlain."

Max Hodgson's fish next to City Hall Park also rhymes: "Rain is all I need to drink! Please, don't put trash down my sink."
click to enlarge Mural design by Max Hodgson - COURTESY OF CHITTENDEN COUNTY STREAM TEAM
  • Courtesy of Chittenden County Stream Team
  • Mural design by Max Hodgson
 

Levasser's blue, snowflake-esque design at South Union and Main streets contains a  host of slogans and white silhouettes of animals, weather symbols and the Vermont landscape.  

Coincidently, this conservation-minded public art initiative came just prior to the opening of the annual "Of Land & Local" exhibition, organized by Burlington City Arts and Shelburne Farms. This year's theme is "Watershed." 


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About The Author

Rachel Elizabeth Jones

Rachel Elizabeth Jones

Bio:
Rachel is an arts staff writer at Seven Days. She writes from the intersections of art, visual culture and anthropology, and has contributed to The New Inquiry, The LA Review of Books and Artforum, among other publications.

More by Rachel Elizabeth Jones

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