Local artist mixes paint with smartphones in downtown art project

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“Everyday People,” by Franco, is part of the “Windows on Chapel Hill” project, which was commissioned by the downtown art program.

Chapel Hill residents can now access public art via their smartphones.

Local artist Parasol B unveiled his piece “Depiction” earlier this month at Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe at 431 W. Franklin St.

The piece is a painted QR code that viewers can scan with their smartphones to reveal a map of sites around downtown Chapel Hill.

“To me, mixing media means painting large QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone to decode additional meaning,” Parasol B said in an email.

Parasol B’s work is part of the “Windows on Chapel Hill” project, which is one of five projects chosen to be part of Chapel Hill’s Downtown Art Program, which unveiled many of its pieces last week.

The program, which drew on feedback from residents and local business owners, aims to enhance Chapel Hill by commissioning diverse art pieces for downtown.

It also includes a recently unveiled art-wrapped bus created by another artist, Mary Carter Taub of Chapel Hill. The bus travels various routes throughout downtown Chapel Hill.

Jeffrey York, public art administrator for Chapel Hill, said the goal of the program is to commission artists to create temporary projects to help champion the downtown area.

The project began last summer when artists were asked to propose public artwork for the downtown area.

Steve Wright, public art coordinator for Chapel Hill, said the program left the application completely open to the artists.

“We just told them to propose public artwork for the downtown area that would enliven the experience for folks who lived downtown and visitors of Chapel Hill,” he said.

Wright said the town received nine proposals by the end of the summer.

The projects were chosen soon after by a board made up of a Franklin Street business owner, an artist who had previously worked with the program and someone from the Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission.

“Those on the selection committee were stakeholders who had an interest in the final outcome,” Wright said.

In addition to “Windows on Chapel Hill” and the wrapped bus, the board also funded a community-based art program with high school students, a mural about North Carolina musicians by Scott Nurkin and a joint project with the Franklin Street Collaborative Gallery and FRANK Gallery featuring a series of photography lectures and exhibitions.

“We hope to continue the downtown art program in the coming year to the extent funding allows,” York said.

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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