By Joel Hall
In preparation of the grand opening of the Riverdale Promenade, formerly the Riverdale Town Center project, the city is seeking artists to add flare to its fire hydrants.
From now until June 15, the Riverdale Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will accept entries for its "Fire-Up Downtown Riverdale" contest. The purpose of the competition, according to organizers, is to cover the city's downtown fire hydrants with compelling, original artwork.
Michael Syphoe, executive director of Riverdale's DDA, said the idea for the contest came from a trip he took to Cleveland, Ohio three years ago, during an International Downtown Association conference. Then, Syphoe said, the city was unveiling it's Downtown Fire Hydrant Art Program to spruce up the area leading to its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
"The local downtown development authority found that there were a lot of fireplugs, and that they were very unsightly," Syphoe said. "It was an old steel town, kind of cruddy, and they were trying to find a way to liven things up, and soften the edges. Riverdale needs that more than anything. We've found that we really needed to something to re-energize the city.
"There are limited amounts of cultural things in Riverdale, so we are trying to address that," Syphoe added. "This is a way for us to show there is a softer side of Riverdale, a creative side of Riverdale, and an art side of Riverdale."
According to Syphoe, the art project will encompass 47 fire hydrants along Ga. Highway 85, between the intersections of King Road and Ga. Highway 138. A panel of judges, assembled by Arts Clayton, will examine the 8.5-inch-by-11-inch mockups of the fire hydrants, and select the top three.
Prize money for the first-, second-and third-place winners will be $500, $200, and $100 respectively, according to Syphoe. The contest is open to all ages and all contestants. In the end, winners will be able to paint the city's 47 fire hydrants with supplies donated by The Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement stores.
Syphoe said the main goal of the project is to capture some of the 64,300 commuters who pass through Riverdale along Ga. Highway 85 daily. He said similar "art-in-public-places" projects in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and London, England, have been successful in creating points of interest.
"Highway 85 is bland; it's a speed through," Syphoe said. "These things are designed to get people talking. The least thing we can do is to get people to slow down a bit. It's very important for us to get some of those people who go through Riverdale, to spend some money in Riverdale."
Syphoe said the painting of the hydrants will take place in July, prior to the grand opening of the Riverdale Promenade, which will take place in the fall. To enter Fire-Up Downtown Riverdale, artists must submit a mock-up of their fire hydrant design, along with a resume, by June 15, to: The Riverdale Downtown Development Authority, 6690 Church St., Riverdale, Ga. 30274-2325, attention: Art-in-Public-Places Committee. For more information, call (770) 907-2535.