Public artwork made of lights could transform Murray Hill/Avondale overpass

Public artwork made of lights could transform Murray Hill/Avondale overpass
Texas artist Bill Fitzgibbons has transformed many public spaces with lighting displays such as those shown here.

Murray Hill residents are hoping to get funding that would transform the bare, utilitarian overpass at Edgewood Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard into a work of art the neighborhoods can be proud of. In this case, the tools wouldn’t be spray paint or mosaic, but pure light.

San Antonio-based artist Bill Fitzgibbons has completed over 30 public art projects and performances in five countries, including Iceland, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom and installed multiple domestic public art projects involving light, according to the biography on his website. He spoke to a packed house in early December at Fishweir Brewery during the quarterly meeting of the Murray Hill Preservation Association. He estimated that the project would cost about $100,000 but couldn’t say exactly what the project would look like.

That’s because he would design it only after input from the community.

“I want input from the stakeholders that live here. That’s very important.” Fitzgibbons said. “Not only is it community pride for the community, it becomes income-making.”

He showed multiple slides of different projects he had created, including an underpass in his native San Antonio and another in Birmingham, Ala.

‘“Before this, bums were hanging out and drugs were being done,” he said. “Think about this: An underpass where you have vagrants and people doing drugs is now where you want to have your wedding photos taken. That’s the magic of public art.”

He spoke to a receptive crowd that clapped and laughed by turns. Many were there because they were members of the Murray Hill Association or Riverside Avondale Preservation, a fact that was not lost on the artist.

This underpass in El Paso was transformed with light displays.
This underpass in El Paso was transformed with light displays.

“The power of neighborhoods is ominous,” he said. “Call on your city council people.”

The city council member for the area, Randy DeFoor, was already present though.

“Legislation is being filed this week!” she said to applause.

Avondale resident Jennifer Harvey, who owns cheese and charcuterie shop Grater Goods in Murray Hill, loves the idea. She, like many in both neighborhoods, wants to see the neighborhoods become more aligned, and creating common public art on the overpass that is seen as the boundary between them is a great way to start.

“I think it joins Avondale and Murray Hill and I think it will also help any perceived safety issues with walking from Murray to Avondale and vice versa. I think it’s awesome that they are investing that kind of money in Murray Hill.” She and others believe Murray Hill is going through what she called a renaissance. She has had her house in Avondale for 23 years and her business in Murray Hill for four – ample time to watch the transformation of Murray Hill. It’s definitely changing.

Fitzgibbons, the artist, hopes to change it still more. He could make the colors static or make them dynamic, set them on one program or 15 to 20.

“I need the input from the community,” he said. For information about his light displays, visit http://www.billfitzgibbons.com.

By Jennifer Edwards
Resident Community News

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