CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- How would you like to paint graffiti on an Interstate bridge pier -- with the blessing of the city and get paid $2,000?
Ten lucky people got the chance to do that last year, and another 10 will do it this summer.
The sponsors don't call it graffiti, of course. It's public art: the Peer to Pier Mural project. You can see last year's efforts as you cross the Elk River along Washington Street on your way to the West Side.
The first Peer to Pier project proved so successful that Charleston's Strong Neighborhoods Task Force -- made up of City Council members, city staff members and volunteers -- decided to do it again.
They targeted the 10 piers beside the westbound lanes of Kanawha Boulevard - two each under each ramp, six under the main lanes of Interstate 64.
Lori Brannon, a neighborhood planner with the city's Planning Department, got the idea for pier murals after seeing similar projects in other cities. Task Force members adopted the idea and raised $23,000 from several sources, including FestivALL.
Brannon is back this year to coordinate, along with Naomi Bays, the public art chairman of FestivALL.
Temporary public art has been a part of FestivALL for years, Bays said. You might recall the sidewalk chalk artist, the resin art in trees, children's art along Fife Street or the drive-through art show on Quarrier Street.
"In 2010, we decided to encourage not just temporary but permanent art, so a little bit of FestivALL will be left over for people to enjoy," Bays said.
In addition to helping support Peer to Pier '11 with a $10,000 donation, FestivALL sponsored the colorful sculptural bike racks that are scattered around downtown.
FestivALL will once again donate $10,000 toward the pier murals, this time with grant money from the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Bays said.
The city of Charleston will supply the rest of the money this year after two funding sources -- the Sustainable Kanawha Valley Initiative ($10,000) and West Side Main Street ($3,000) -- dropped out, Brannon said.