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Artist halts municipality’s attempt to remove 3D crosswalk art project

WATCH: Street artist Doug Carleton has revealed himself as the one who designed a 3D crosswalk in Dartmouth, but despite support for some HRM is looking to remove it. Jesse Thomas reports.

The artist behind a piece of 3D street art in Dartmouth — a sidewalk painted to make it looks like it’s floating — is now trying to protect his work from the municipality.

The floating crosswalk is at the corner of Erskine and Elliot streets in Dartmouth, which leads to the Hawthorne Elementary School and park. It’s a quiet neighbourhood street but the 3D art has become the talk of the town.

READ MORE: New mural hopes to brighten up Dartmouth, help it shed ‘darkside’ moniker

Gary Evans lives at the corner of Erskine and Elliot streets and has been able to watch the artist work, usually in the early morning, around 4 a.m., to avoid oncoming traffic, Evans said.

“After a while, I came out in the daytime to see what he was doing and I could see that some progress was being made,” said Evans, who didn’t understand what exactly was being painted at first but now he’s all for it.

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“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” he added. “It’s outside of my house and it kind of looks special, and nobody else has it and the guy didn’t do any harm.”

The street artist — who wanted to remain anonymous — had tagged the crosswalk with his twitter handle @StreetArtNS and tried to keep a low profile.

But this Tuesday morning, his cover was blown.

Doug Carleton was forced to reveal himself after the municipality attempted to wash away his work, which he says is 50 per cent complete.

“You see how it’s all marked brown and everything around it,” said Carleton, pointing to a black hashmark meant to act as a shadow.

“That’s from city workers this morning dumping acid on it. I stood on top of the puddle of acid and they called their supervisor. They washed the acid off and left. They could be back in an hour, I have no idea.”

Carleton has been stealthy working on the 3D art project for a few months now. It caught the attention of Dartmouth Centre Coun. Sam Austin, who likes the idea of a three-dimensional crosswalk.

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Austin calls it an “outside-of-the-box” solution to issues like traffic calming and fading paint.

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He approached city staff to ask them to consider letting the artist finish the project, as a trial run, but says he received no support.

“Traffic engineers by their nature are a pretty conservative bunch,” said Austin. “And from my conversation with them, I think it’s just simply not in the book of guidelines from the Transportation Association of Canada, and there’s no proof that they are effective.”

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Chip Wilson addresses protesters outside his West Side home
Chip Wilson addresses protesters outside his West Side home

Austin says there’s also an impulse with city staff to condone people taking matters into their own hands and painting on the street.

HRM staff declined an interview but issued a statement saying transportation staff is reviewing the sidewalk situation and stressed that the “safety of residents” is their top priority, adding a “decision will be made in the coming days regarding the status of the artwork at this crosswalk. Further details will be shared once they become available.”

As for the artist, he’d like to complete the project and see how effective the 3D art project is at traffic calming in the neighbourhood.

“They are saying there’s no proof it’s effective,” said Carleton. “But it’s only half done and it’s already effective… I’d like to finish it.”

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