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Third Avenue underpass to get community mural

The Third Avenue/Highway 22 underpass will be getting a makeover this summer.

Western Wellness Foundation, the parent group for Best Friends Mentoring, has received a $10,000 National Endowment for the Arts Challenge America grant, and matching funds from the city of Dickinson.

With the funds, the foundation plans to commission mural artist Guillermo Avalos to paint the north-facing underpass wing walls.

The murals will "brighten up" and add to Dickinson's downtown corridor, Kris Fehr, Best Friends executive director, said.

The effort follows a recent community survey of new residents completed through a Bush Foundation grant.

"There's 10,000 or more new people here since the oil boom, and a lot of those are young families and they are looking for things to do, thing to look at," Fehr said. "Part of our survey was to find out what people are looking for in our community."

One element lacking in the community, the survey revealed, is public art.

A priority for the city of Dickinson, Dickinson Parks & Recreation and others serving in an advisory group was to do something with the underpass, Fehr said.

"Ever since I've lived here, I've heard people say, we should do something with the underpass," she said. "It was last year, perhaps, when the walls were painted white and that gives it a nice background for whatever might go on those walls. I have no preconceived notions. It's a community project."

Avalos, a Long Beach, Calif.,-based artist, has done murals for Dickinson Fire Department in 2017 and for the Best Friends Mentoring building in 2014.

"People go by and they smile," Fehr said. "It gives you more things, more community pride, more things to talk about. Creating art also helps solve community problems and brings people together who maybe haven't been together before."

Fehr anticipates the project starting in June and being completed by September.

"It will not be just one mural artist; it will be groups of kids, just general citizens who will be working on the mural to make it a true public art piece," Fehr said.

An advisory group of community organizations will meet in March to provide input on what the community would like to see with the mural, which will be provided to the artist along with some direction.

Fehr said the community project will be "so much fun"

"It's going to be really cool," she said. "I can hardly wait."