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UpStreamArt at the convergence of public art and education

Picture of upstream art on a storm drain showing a wishing well

MAKE A WISH -- "The Wishing Well," an UpStream Art piece at the entrance to Crystal Bridges on John DeShields Blvd., is by several artists from Rust Studios out of Berryville, Ark. The artists listed are: Randy Rust, Callista Audet, Laura O'Rourke and Crystal Rust. (Photo courtesy Serina Wilkins)

Fast Facts

  • Call for artists to participate in UpStream Art project
  • Application deadline is March 14
  • Project kickoff reception Feb. 15 from 5-7 p.m.
  • More info: Jane Maginot, Washington County extension office, 479-444-1755, or by email at

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Artists will have a chance to spread a little paint with an eye to spreading a message about water quality as part of the 2014 Upstream Art project.

In its third year, the 2014 project will add to the existing 19 storm drains in Benton and Washington counties that have been painted with educational messages.

“UpStream Art gives artists a chance to express their imaginations in an educational channel through a series of a small-scale outdoor storm drain murals,” said Jane Maginot, extension urban stormwater educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Artists are being invited to join the effort by submitting an application by March 14. Applications may be obtained either by contacting Maginot at 479-444-1755 or or visiting, to find applications, requirements, pictures and more details on specific storm drains.

Picture of upstream art on a storm drain showing a cave salamander

RED ALL OVER -- A red cave salamander brightens up the storm drain artwork painted as part of the 2012 UpStream Art project. The work, by Arkansas EnergyCoprs member Lean Saffian, can be seen at Frisco Trail and Maple Ave. in Fayetteville. (Photo courtesy Serina Wilkins)


The purpose is to help people understand that storm drains are not the same as a city’s sanitary sewer system. Any materials that go into the storm drain goes directly back to nature.

“Whatever you see in the street -- cigarette butts, leaking oil, antifreeze, pet wastes -- all of those pollutants, plus whatever the water picks up as it washes across parking lots and roadways, goes directly in its untreated state straight into our local streams and drinking water sources such as Beaver Lake,” Maginot said.

“Our hope is that the art will help raise awareness of the purpose of these drains and help reduce the amount of pollution returned directly to the environment,” Maginot said.

Local gallery, Fayetteville Underground has joined as a partner with UpStream Art. Gallery Manager, Samantha Sigmon says, “The Fayetteville Underground, as a leader in promoting local artists, is involved with UpStream Art to encourage the melding of the arts with important community events. This marriage of public education, environmental science, local art, and city governments will further strengthen the cultural ties of our region.”

Fayetteville Underground will be hosting a kickoff reception on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 5-7 p.m. at its gallery space on the Fayetteville square. Project representatives and previous artists will be available to answer questions about UpStream Art and show off the previous years’ art.

The project includes 12 drains in Benton and Washington counties. 
Partners in this project include the City of Bella Vista, City of Bentonville, City of Fayetteville, City of Springdale, Fayetteville Underground, The Jones Center, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service, Walton Arts Center Artosphere, Seal Krete, and the Northwest Arkansas Stormwater Education Program.

For more information, contact Jane Maginot, Washington county extension office, 479-444-1755, or by email at

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

January 14, 2014

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Extension Communications Specialist
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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