City of Birmingham plans for Smithfield Library to receive an asphalt mural as a part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies' Asphalt Art Initiative

Norfolk, VA put a lot of love into their mural. Photo by Matt Eich via Bloomberg Philanthropies.

By Cheyenne Trujillo | Public Relations, Library Assistant Ⅲ

Birmingham's mural collection is growing—and the Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) Smithfield Branch Library is getting one!

The City of Birmingham will receive a grant up to $25,000 from the Bloomberg Philanthropies as a part of their Asphalt Art Initiative.

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in cities and countries across the world to improve the quality of life by funding the arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health to create lasting change.

Their latest project is the Asphalt Art Initiative.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies selected 26 U.S.A. cities—Birmingham being one of them—for their second installment of the Asphalt Art Initiative, adding onto the 16 U.S. cities they funded in the project's inaugural year in 2020.

The new mural in Saginaw, MI brightens up the road. Photo by Cody Powers via Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Birmingham, along with seven other cities in this category, are receiving asphalt art for "pedestrian plazas and public space improvements" specifically.

The Asphalt Art Initiative allots funding for visual art on roadways, pedestrian spaces, and public infrastructure in U.S. cities.

This initiative led by Bloomberg Philanthropies seeks to:

  • improve street and pedestrian safety

  • revitalize underutilized public space

  • promote collaboration and civic engagement in local communities

The City of Birmingham envisions this mural on the intersection of 8th Ave W and Center Street, stretching between the Smithfield Court and the Smithfield Library.

Children in Lancaster, PA work together to create a mural. Photo by Christopher Leaman via Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Create Birmingham will lead as the art partner on the project, collaborating with the city to find qualified artists, designers, and teams to create this stunning, new visual piece.

According to their website, Create Birmingham is the the only agency in the region exclusively dedicated to the economic development of Birmingham’s creative industries.

Just recently, Create Birmingham also helped the Alabama Center for Architecture bring the traveling exhibit Evicted to the BPL

Create Birmingham at the opening reception of Evicted.  
After narrowing down the artist selection, a resident-led review panel will decide on the final artist to create this piece.

The BPL and Smithfield Library staff are also a part of this project team.

Christina Argo, Division Manager for Strategic Projects, shared in a press release that:

This project represents an opportunity to further expand our toolkit of public realm strategies in Birmingham, centered at a critical juncture of mobility, social infrastructure, and history in the Smithfield neighborhood.

Expect to see movement on this project starting with technical assistance from Bloomberg Philanthropies this fall 2021 and artist selection in early 2022.

The intersection's new look is making a splash in Durham, NC. Photo by Justin Holmes via Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The City of Birmingham will update their press release with more information on the Asphalt Art Initiative as it develops. 

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