Photo May 14, 11 30 22 AM

Harold Yazzie paints a trashcan as part of the Downtown Trash Can Painting Project.

Downtown Gallup is saturated with murals. A trip to City Hall is accompanied by glimpses into the history and diversity of our community. En route to the local bakery, a look up reminds you of the service veterans have provided this country. Walking to the Children’s Library, you join in a colorful celebration of the contribution of women to society. Murals are a tradition in Gallup, and now the City is starting a new tradition.

If you’ve visited downtown recently, you may have noticed paintings popping up in unexpected places. The Business Improvement District (BID), in partnership with gallupARTS, the Main Street Arts & Cultural District and the City of Gallup, is sponsoring a summer-long Downtown Trash Can Painting Project. The goal of the project is to beautify all of the trashcans and planters in the downtown area by inviting local artists to paint them.  Not only will this project make Gallup’s downtown more attractive and delightful, it will also showcase our community’s unparalleled wealth of talent—it involves artists of all backgrounds and styles in sharing their unique visions.

The project began with a call for letters of interest from local artists. Actually, the project began when local business owner Archie Baca decided that something needed to be done about the one-note turquoise trashcans that litter (pun intended) the streets of Gallup. Archie’s idea to revamp the City’s drab and dreary receptacles was set into motion when the BID adopted the project. It gained momentum when the City threw its support behind the plan, and took off when a project committee was formed (made up of representatives from the above-mentioned organizations) and the project was announced. Over forty artists responded to the initial call. Those artists were invited to submit specific trashcan and planter design proposals. The committee selected 25 proposals to move forward, and the project officially launched with an orientation for artists led by the legendary Ric Sarracino.

Ric is to trashcans what Michelangelo is to ceilings. Ric brought Archie’s vision to life. He painted the first three receptacles, creating prototypes for the project. His original masterpieces are on view outside the Children’s Library and City Hall. Ric gave the selected group of artists expert advice on design, materials, and process.

Trash Can Orientation

Artists gather for trashcan painting orientation.

After Ric’s pep talk, the artists were eager to be introduced to their receptacles and get started working their magic. They got their chance when the project worksite (the old Alpine Lumber facility) opened on May 9th. In the past five weeks, over 15 artists have rolled up their sleeves and gotten to down to the dirty job of transforming city trashcans into downtown treasures. Check out their progress by clicking through the pictures below:

Gallery Notice : Images have either not been selected or couldn't be found


Now, downtown businesses are getting in on the action and sponsoring the receptacles outside of their storefronts. ArtsCrawl has joined in the fun too, drawing attention to and showcasing the project by having artists painting trashcans along Coal Ave. during the monthly event.

Ric Sarracino @ ArtsCrawl

Ric Sarracino paints a trashcan on the corner of 2nd and Coal during ArtsCrawl: Around the world on June 11th.

The project will be completed by the beginning of August, in time for the Intertribal Ceremonial.  Once all the cans are back out on the street, the public will be invited to vote on their favorites. Cash prizes will be awarded to first, second and third places.

Make sure to visit downtown over the summer to see new trashcans as they are unveiled and stay tuned for more information as the Downtown Trash Can Painting Project unfolds!