3 BCRTA buses get StreetSpark touches, will be unveiled this week

HAMILTON — Three new-look buses designed by regional artists will be unveiled Friday morning after a months-long collaboration between the Butler County Regional Transportation Authority and Fitton Center’s public art program StreetSpark.

Those vinyl-wrapped designs are an extension of BCRTA’s mission, according to Communications Manager Shawn Cowan: “We’re not just transporting people, we’re moving them, too.”

“We’re proud our buses will be a canvas for high-quality art. We are also proud our buses deliver that art all over Butler County and make it available to huge numbers of people,” Cowan said. “We are so excited to finally put these buses on the road and share these designs with the community.”

StreetSpark Program Manager Jennifer Acus-Smith said the designs from artists Brent Billingsley, Amy Deal and Evan Verrilli received the highest scores on their designs from a judging committee last September.

“We had some difficult decisions to make, but in the end, their designs stood out,” Acus-Smith said. “We are lucky to have so many talented, passionate artists who elevate both the quality and the quantity of public art this community enjoys.”

Deal, who works out of Dayton, said Hamilton’s commitment to public art is “above and beyond most cities in the United States.” Deal said she took inspiration from the city’s sculptures and married it with her standard style.

“The sculptures stood out to me and are extremely recognizable. I explored all of the sculptures throughout Hamilton and pulled out pieces that I found to be exciting (to create my designs),” Deal said. “My designs are usually colorful and minimalistic, which fit well for a moving ‘billboard.’ I wanted the design to be recognized from a distance with the ability for the viewer to see enough before the bus moves down the road.”

Verelli, too, took a colorful and simplistic approach to his design, creating an orange stylized outline of Hamilton’s cityscape which particularly highlights the Butler County Soldiers Monument.

Cincinnati-based Billingsley used the bus design to highlight Black businessman Garrett Morgan, the Kentucky-born inventor of the traffic light who lived most of his adult life in Cleveland. Billingsley said public art projects like this can have knock-on impacts on further creativity.

“(Art) empowers a community,” Billingsley said. “When they see something beautiful, I believe that it provokes them to possibly want to create something or do something beautiful. I feel as if Hamilton is a force rising concerning the art community; I want to make a major contribution to this movement.”

All three artists, along with city and county officials, will attend Friday’s unveiling ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Fitton Center.

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