Dumpster diving takes on a whole new meaning as a call for artists goes out to paint mural-like works of art on several trash receptacles in the historic downtown district of Denison.


It’s part of the city’s ongoing “activate the alleys” initiative. As the city prepares to move forward with a major over haul of portions of Main Street, the alleys around the area are also being rejuvenated. It started when the Denison Design Committee suggested finding a useful way to continue to use the dumpsters after the city began the process of switching vendors.


Denison Arts Council Interim President Barb Stewart said the project is providing for an opportunity for local artists go be a part of the process.


“We’re partnering with the city of Denison,” Stewart said. “It is kind of a three-pronged deal. The city owns multiple dumpsters in town. We’re trying to activate the alleys ahead of the streetscape coming in 2020. We helped rename the alleys.”


The alleys were all renamed last year as part of the initiative. They are Saint’s Alley, Depot Alley, Music Alley and Firehouse Alley. The dumpsters need to be painted in a way that fits the theme of the respective alley.


“When the alleys were renamed the program really started to go from there,” Stewart said. “We decided the dumpsters would be a great way to get people into town. We are also doing murals.”


Stewart said roughly a dozen dumpsters have either been completed or are in progress. She said the initiative is now seeking additional artists to get involved. The process takes several steps. The application is through the city. Once approved the city sends it to the design committee who then turns it over to the Denison Arts Council for final approval as well as to determine if there is funding available for the artist to undertake the project. Those who are interested in getting involved can find the call for artists at the arts council’s website, www.smalltownbigart.com.


Stewart said the other cities do public art in similar ways. She said there have already been businesses express interest.


Denison Main Street Director Donna Dow said the Main Street committee has been collecting artist names and contact information to find artists who’s vision matches the city’s intention.


“The city is looking for engaging, interesting designs people will want to take photos in front of the dumpsters,” Dow said. “They are conversation pieces. It is embracing the uniqueness of the Denison community. We’re trying to follow the theme of the alleys.”


The dumpsters will be more than works of art, they will remain fully functional for those patrons who need someplace to throw some trash away.


“It will be a great public art initiative. The arts council is happy to partner with the city.”


What type of art would you like to see added to the downtown dumpsters in Denison? Let Herald Democrat Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by email at rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. He can also be reached by Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.