VIRGINIA BEACH — If you’ve been in the ViBe Creative District in the last couple of years you’ve almost certainly noticed the colorful crosswalks that grace a number of intersections there.
At some point next year there will be four more “creative crosswalks.” These, however, will be permanent and perhaps the first of their kind in the nation.
Kate Pittman, executive director for the thriving arts district, said there are currently nine creative crosswalks in the district, but they’re temporary.
ViBe volunteers have been researching crosswalks in other cities for the past three years. The new crosswalks – which will be created using brick pavers – will be permanent, expected to last 20-30 years.
Streetscape work on 19th Street is underway, and the new crosswalk creations will be installed at four intersections along that newly expanded and redesigned street.
The intersections are at Parks, Cypress, Mediterranean, and Baltic avenues.
“Generic designs of patterned waves were presented in the original streetscape renderings and the ViBe Creative District asked the question, ‘If you are already paying for multiple colors of bricks, can’t we have local artists design the artwork to have significance to the city’s arts district?” Pittman said.
The request made its way through all the proper channels and permission was granted.
Pittman said each design had to be submitted to the streetscape architects and designers in order to ensure that the images could be replicated in rectangular stones.
Since the brick pavers are available only in limited colors, the artists had to come up with a design that was pre-approved by streetscape designers who could ensure the color-specific bricks were available to buy.
For example, lime green and neon pink stones don’t exist and therefore could not be used in the crosswalk designs.
Artist Scuba did the design for the 19th Street and Baltic Avenue intersection.
“My work is usually process-oriented and meditative, making the same few markets repeatedly until a space is filled,” he said. “This particular project will be unique as I’m removed from the actual making.”
Scuba said he’s never had a design built with pavers, but the process of making a rendering and passing it off for review and approval is standard.
“One day I saw one of my students gliding by on a huge long-board on campus. It struck me as an idea, or an icon for women determined to move forward in this world, with speed style and grace and ease,” he said. “I started drawing skateboarding women and moms to reflect this beautiful idea. Moms can do it all!”
For her design at 19th and Cypress, Allison Termine drew on a past drawing she was asked to do for Hampton Roads Pride.
“I knew the rainbow is a universal symbol for LGBTQ, so incorporating that was a no brainer,” she said. “I wanted a simple, bold design that hopefully brightens everyone’s day as they cross it.”
Termine’s intersection will also include cardinals.
“The reason I included the Virginia State bird, the cardinal, was to make it a crest of unity, that we come in all colors and gender here in Virginia,” she said.
Local artist Troy Summerell, aka OnieTonie, designed the fourth and final intersection at Parks Avenue and 19th Street.