That gave mural artist Maggie Panetta an idea.
“I was envisioning what’s being blocked,” she said.
Panetta is one of five artists selected by Threshold Arts to add color to the concrete structures separating outdoor spaces restaurants and cafes have added to adapt to occupancy guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are going to be here for a while, so why not add some color and vibrancy downtown,” asked Naura Anderson of Threshold Arts.
Panetta spent seven hours plotting and painting her design Saturday on the 200 block of First Avenue Southeast and returned to continue her work Sunday morning with a bit of help.
Destination Medical Center funded the project. Another goal of the initiative was to help provide artists with visibility and income they lost during the pandemic, Anderson said.
Panetta created images of the feet of people walking, geese, a scooter and other things she imagined people would miss seeing on the sidewalk from the other side of the barrier.
On Third Street, Jenna Whiting created art featuring animals you can spot in and around Rochester.
Her work includes Orton, a peregrine falcon that lives downtown on a Mayo Clinic building, other birds, plants, a turtle, and even a mosquito.
Whiting is used to putting her art in high visibility spaces — she did exterior painting on the building that houses Nellie’s nearby. However, she prefers to stay out of the spotlight herself, she said.
“I’m a closeted artist,” she said. “I like to do my work and pop home.”
However, painting in the public space does draw some attention.
“I’m kind of an introvert,” she said, “so this is a great way to meet people and other artists.”
Work on the barriers will continue through the week.
Leah Bee, Canvas and Chardonnay co-owner, was selected to paint the barriers near her business on the 300 block of South Broadway. Brea Gilchrist will paint barriers outside Half Barrel on First Avenue Southeast. Willow Gentile will paint barriers outside Pot Belly Sandwich Shop on the same block.