Bold, colorful, public artworks have been popping up all over St. Croix the past few years thanks in large part to local organization Clean Sweep Frederiksted. According to Clean Sweep Frederiksted’s website, public art: “Public art isn’t just pretty. It drives community pride, shows off local artists, encourages pedestrian traffic, attracts visitors, and creates zero-barrier access to art for everybody in the community.” So grab your camera and out on your walking shoes because there is an entire Public Art Trail running through Frederiksted, and also a few stops in Christiansted, that everyone can enjoy!
While it began as a grassroots initiative created in response to the litter problem plaguing Frederiksted Historic District in 2014, Clean Sweep Frederiksted has grown to encompass more beautification projects and community events to celebrate our culture and the arts. Community Paint was one of the earlier beautification projects along the streets of Frederiksted. It seemed that suddenly colorful murals and paintings featuring local flora, fauna, cultural icons and more began popping up on local buildings, concrete retaining walls, and water tanks. Soon even the trash cans around town became canvases for local businesses and artists to paint to encourage proper disposal of litter while also beautifying the town. Clean Sweep Frederiksted also repaired and painted the public benches around Frederiksted, and created a community garden since it’s inception.
Clean Sweep Frederiksted also encourages and supports local artists by offering a stipend for them to create various pieces such as unique sculptures, mosaics, paintings and more. These works are then added to the Public Art Trail so the trail will continue to grow and showcase the talented local artists. To see a map of the Public Art Trail, and learn more about the art and artists, you can visit the Clean Sweep Frederiksted website’s Art Trail page. Here are some of the pieces you can along the trail:
Some of the larger murals in Frederiksted and Christiansted were done as part of the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans public art program for which Clean Sweep Frederiksted partnered with the PangeaSeed Foundation to bring Sea Walls to St. Croix. Sea Walls describes their program as: “…(a) groundbreaking ARTivism program that brings the message of ocean conservation into streets around the world. A perfect synergy of art and activism, ARTivism is designed to educate and raise public awareness of critical environmental issues by means of art.” Sea Walls St Croix was held in December 2019 and included mural paintings, a film screening, an art exhibit, community forums and much more. The murals across the island created by the artists brought in to participate are powerful, stunning masterpieces that speak volumes and are garnering social media attention worldwide. Check out this wonderful video about the Sea Walls St. Croix project to learn more:
Public art adds enormous value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic development of any community. In fact, it’s widely accepted that public art contributes to a community’s identity, fosters community pride, enhances quality of life, and can even attract tourism. If you would like to learn how you can support Clean Sweep Frederiksted by donating or volunteering your time, visit their website at www.cleansweepfrederiksted.org. Thank you to Clean Sweep Frederiksted for your contributions to our local public art scene, as well as all your hard work to keep Frederiksted clean and revitalize the town!
-Jennie Ogden, Editor