Celebrate public art in downtown Wilson

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Historic Downtown Wilson will have a community celebration of vibrant, whimsical public art on June 16 starting at 10 a.m. by “takin’ it to the streets.” The second edition of Paint-A-Hydrant will feature community participants painting hydrants they have sponsored and adopted in the downtown Municipal Service District, while a ribbon-cutting will celebrate the completion of three more Artsy Alleys.


Wilson Downtown Development and the Arts Council of Wilson, in conjunction with the city of Wilson hydrant crew and Wilson Fire and Rescue, partnered for the second Paint-a-Hydrant in the Historic Downtown Wilson municipal district. All designs have to be approved by a committee before being painted with oil-based enamel paint during the event. Proceeds for this second event will be used to support the “Fight for Me Foundation,” created to assist Wilson County firefighters in times of need. The fire department will be on site with a fire truck and Sparky the fire dog for the kids.

Led by the late Ashley Stott, hydrant crew leader for the city of Wilson, and Susan Kellum, downtown marketing and communications coordinator, the first round of the Paint-A-Hydrant public art project took place on May 20. Fifty-three hydrants within the municipal service district downtown were approved to be painted as a public art project. Twelve teams painted their approved designs on hydrants in sweltering heat but with high spirits. Hydrants were painted all along Nash Street, around the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and conservation headquarters, as well as in the residential area on Green Street.


Also on June 16, there will be ribbon-cuttings for the three Artsy Alleys funded by an Edward Jones grant. The project, designed to make downtown connectors between parking lots, shops, restaurants and attractions well-lit, safe and vibrant, is led by the design committee of Wilson Downtown Development Corporation.

Ellen Hoj, city of Wilson staff member who manages the committee, said that the unveiling of the new alleys will bring the total to date of five redeveloped pathways.

Tin Pan Alley, running between Nash Street and Barnes Street parking lot across from the courthouse, has a musical theme with a whimsically painted piano and a PVC xylophone; Imagine Alley, behind the old Super Ten building in the Colony parking lot, will contain a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) theme; and Carriage Crossing, between City Hall and the annex, incorporates a series of small murals with abstract flowers and coordinating iron sculptures.