Bus Shelter Beautification Project Intertwines the Visual Arts, Environment

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By Katrina Wilson

Sponsored by Keep Prince William Beautiful  

Keep Prince William Beautiful, its sponsors and local artists have helped beautify the County’s bus shelters with art. The ribbon cutting for their beautification project is Aug. 24 at 10:00 a.m.

The event is from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the shelter at Minnieville Road and Dale Blvd. in front of the Giant Food parking lot, 4309 Dale Blvd., Dale City.

Rico Fleshman, Executive Director of Keep Prince William Beautiful, Inc. – a nonprofit devoted to environment sustainability education and advocacy in the County – described the project.

“The goal of the bus shelter beautification project is to foster a unique sense of place in each community,” Fleshman said. “This project will improve the community and ridership experience by providing dedicated and consistent litter removal and the installation of public artwork that contributes to the interest and aesthetic appeal of bus shelters across the County.”

Bus shelters are the metal and plexiglass structures that cover the bus stops. Bus riders often wait inside the shelters. Omniride has 88 of them in Prince William County.

The Process

Fleshman and his committee put out an RFQ [request for qualifications]on May 3, 2022, that described the public art initiative and called for artists to submit to the project. After review by the steering committee, four artists were selected and given their choice of bus shelters at Minnieville Road and Dale Blvd., Old Bridge and Antietam, PWC Parkway (in front of the County McCourt building) and Sudley Road and Digges.

“Our mission is to provide environmental advocacy and education to all the residents and businesses in the county,” he said. “Which is why we have chosen the theme of environmental sustainability for the art.”

The first four shelters will have artwork displayed for one year from after installation. After the year is up, the art will be auctioned off to anyone who wants to purchase them.

Litter control will also be in place at the shelters.

The sponsors of the event are OmniRide, PWC Neighborhood Services, Parks, Recreation and Tourism, AWS InCommunities and Apple Federal Credit Union.

Meet the Artists

bus shelter

Nakayama working on the piece that will be at the bus shelter. Photo credit: Tamao Nakayama

Two of the artists involved are Tamao Nakayama and Emily Thomson.

English is Nakayama’s second language, but art doesn’t have a language barrier for her.

She described what her art is for the project.

“The bus shelter I designed is across from Woodbridge High-school, so I wanted to design something colorful and joyful for kids,” she said. “I made this artwork, “Seven Animals On A Path To The River,” with the idea of promoting the beauty of Virginia’s wildlife.”

She hid small animals in the colorful forest of her art, so people can have fun finding them.

“I hope my work enhances people’s everyday lives and raises public awareness about environmental stewardship,” she said.

Thomson said her art is more floral-centric.

“My artwork on the panels embodies the native flowers, pollinators, and moths of Virginia,” she said. “A lot of the ones I painted are pollinators and plants I have come across or have at home in the flower gardens. I have a great interest in butterflies and moths, and l love painting flowers and anything related to nature.”

She added: “I hope the public enjoys my paintings on the panels and that it creates some joy for the viewer.”

The Future of the Program

Today the program will launch as the Adopt-A-Shelter-Program. Fleshman said to think of this like an Adopt-A-Highway-Program.

The Adopt-A-Shelter program will allow any business, civic organization or individual to adopt a shelter for $1,200, collaborate with KPWB and Omniride to pick a theme for art, select an artist to create the art for them (if that organization doesn’t already have an in-house artist) and submit it to the steering committee to give final approval to be installed on the shelters.

It will stay there for a year, be auctioned at that time, and provide 50% of funds to KPWB and 50% to the artist, or the sponsoring organization will be given the option to retain the art.

Once again, the registration fee will be used to cover the program’s administrative costs, installation of the panels, and panels that have to be replaced.

“The four artists chosen were awarded a $500 grant for their time and expenses to create the piece,” Rico said. “Each shelter will have a placard and QR code that leads people to the artists’ website.”

Katrina loves storytelling and you can follow her on Twitter – @KatrinaMWilson_.



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