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Studio arts professor spearheads neighborhood improvement project

September 30, 2013

Barb Caldwell painting street mural
People of all ages helped with the project


AMES, Iowa — A project initiated by Barbara Caldwell, Iowa State University associate professor of integrated studio arts, brought together about 80 people from a two-block area last weekend to paint a mural on Lee Street—a short, quiet street that connects Ridgewood and Brookridge Avenues north of Sixth Street near Brookside Park.

The Brookside Neighborhood Association South received a $1,530 neighborhood improvement grant from the City of Ames for the project, which was proposed during the neighborhood's annual July Fourth picnic. Caldwell designed the mural's overall theme: a river running down the middle to represent the nearby Squaw Creek, with each side divided into quadrants containing imagery dedicated to one of the four seasons. She also facilitated the painting event on Sept. 21.

Participants used cardboard stencils but could also draw freehand with chalk and fill in the design with paint to add their own creative element based on the theme, Caldwell said. "It was both structured and spontaneous, and allowed people of all ages to participate."

Nearly 40 gallons of durable paint intended for use on streets and curb were used, she said.

Other project organizers included ISU retirees Bob Bourne, former transit director of CyRide, and Sue Crull, former associate professor of human development and family studies. The neighborhood association invites visitors to view the mural anytime during daylight hours, and reminds drivers to be conscious of children in the area.