If you've ever wanted a chance to influence the aesthetics of local bus routes, now is your chance.
Polls have opened for a few final designs that could adorn some buses on the Prince George's County TheBus system's new Route 1 circulator, aptly named the Route 1 Ride. The winning design will be wrapped around three buses that would take commuters up and down Route 1 between Mount Rainier and northern College Park.
The contest, , is sponsored by the Route 1 Ride Collaborative, a collection of government officials, municipal and county government agencies, area non-profits and community development corporations. The group's goal is to increase ridership on the Route 1 Ride through creative branding, emphasizing the arts, culture, lifestyle and history of the neighborhoods that line Baltimore and Rhode Island Avenues.
, organizers received a total of 38 submissions from 27 artists. It then fell to a panel of 14 jurors from the local community to select the three finalists to be put up for vote.
The three artists behind the finalist designs are Jennifer Axner, Matthew Gifford and Boshwell Talavera.
Axner's design, entitled Route 1 Paint Tube turns the bus into a giant wooden plank upon which rests a large, smeared tube of paint. Featuring the Route 1 Ride logo prominently on the paint tube, the design also bears the names of the individual communities that make up Maryland's the inside-the-beltway Route 1 communities.
Axner said that her design was inspired by the changing physical and cultural landscape she's seen in Hyattsville's arts district.
"I created two different designs that emphasize the artistic nature of the arts district neighborhoods," wrote Axner in an artist's statement. "I wanted to refer to the artists…that have been attracted to the new Hyattsville Arts District–as to suggest that their creative processes are 'splashing' color all over the neighborhoods."
Gifford's design, entitled Let Me Ride, transforms the bus into a psychedelic wonder bus. The passenger side of the bus juxtaposes tranquil natural silhouettes and a cosmic audio cassette spilling excess tape. The driver's side of the bus features an iridescent pink woman wearing headphones over a mane of rainbow hair.
Gifford's design also incorporates the structures of the bus into the design itself, with the wheel well forming a part of the woman's headphones and the passenger side destination marquee forming the label on the cassette tape.
"I use art to tell stories about place, hope, growth, community and the human condition," wrote Gifford in his artist statement. "Hopefully my work will somehow inspire those that come in contact with it."
Talavera's design, entitled Everything in One Place, features a large photo mosaic which forms the Maryland State Flag on both sides of the bus. Standing in front of the mosaic are large cutouts of smiling, multi-ethnic people doing things like holding babies, taking pictures and stretching their arms. The mosaic comprises thousands of photographs taken by Talavera in neighborhoods up and down Route 1. On top of it all is the text "Everything in 1 Place" and a list of the communities along the Route 1 Ride route.
"I didn't want to single out any one community or building, i.e. UMCP in college park or the Artdc Gallery in Hyattsville, simply because that one element does not represent the whole of Route 1," wrote Talavera in his artist statement.
Voting will be open for the next four weeks, according to Stuart Eisenberg, president of the Hyattsville Community Development Coporation, which is one of the members of the Route 1 Ride Collaborative.