Art / Pennsylvania / Slice of Americana / Travel

Roadside Americana: Read Between The Signs

Balloon FI

Meadville, Pennsylvania, a small city in the northwest corner of the state, might not necessarily be the first city to spring to mind when art and innovation is mentioned. But you Venus types may be surprised to discover that the zipper was invented here. And for the Mars set, channel lock pliers also had their start in Meadville. And on the art front, this is the location of one of the most colorful, creative, and fun public art projects ever … the Read Between the Signs Project.

Balloons

Public art is always a good thing, and it’s particularly so when a cooperative community project has such positive results.

Deer

Designed to disguise an unattractive chain link fence and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation equipment and supply yard, this 1200 ft long X 9 ft high sculpture achieves its goal beautifully.

Roller Coaster

The creators lovingly call this fanciful fence a “roadside intervention.”

Rain storm

And all its vibrant panache is achieved with recycled road signs!

Personally, I think the qualities that make great Roadside Americana are a sense of humor, whimsy, and fun.

Canoe

And the Read Between the Sign Project gets top marks across the board. If you’d like more information, it can be found on the project website.

Happy Trails,
James

Train

37 thoughts on “Roadside Americana: Read Between The Signs

  1. What a great project! Functional, sustainable and inspirational. I wish that more cities would use art as a means to spruce up areas or to solve problems. When I’ve seen it done, it seems very successful. Thanks for sharing. Great images and great post.

    • I agree that this is a great project, and in my opinion, your first sentence defines good public art. We travel around a lot, and are always pleased when we visit a community where the spirit of art and cooperation exist. And the Read Between the Signs project is the perfect example. ~James

  2. I love this! I’m putting Meadville on my list of places to explore now that I’m back in the USA. Thanks for sharing this cool piece of artwork. I love the canoeists, the thunderstorm and the hot air balloons. 🙂

    • Thanks Pam. If you ever get up this way, it’s worth a detour. In addition to the raccoon, there were deer, fish, sheep, ducks, and cows. There was even a snowplow, which has to be a big part of life in wintertime in these parts. ~James

      • A snowplow – that is great! Yes I remember those days as a kid living in PA. Very cute – I told my brother to go check it out.

    • Thanks Shelley. In addition to the cool art, one of the greatest things about this mural is that it hid a really ugly sight of gravel piles, heavy equipment, and ugly warehouses. ~James

    • Thanks Virginia. I knew that a creative, artistic type like you would appreciate a project like this. I’m not sure who brought the artists at the local college and the engineers at the DOT together, but they did a great thing. I suspect that whimsy isn’t a word one hears very often at the DOT. ~James

  3. Have to admire the community for its innovation. Fun photos. As I have wandered around America (and Canada recently), I have found more and more towns are supporting community art projects from murals to wood carvings for both community pride and tourism. It’s a great trend. I am pre-posting a blog for next week while I am at Burning Man on one of the pioneers in sign forests, Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory. –Curt

    • It doesn’t take much travel to see how many drab and boring places there are out there. And when I see a project like this, it makes me wonder why more towns can’t pull it together. It just takes a few people with vision and focus to get the ball rolling. But you’re right. In our travels, we’re seeing more and more of these community projects, and it’s great to see. Looking forward to the Burning Man posts. ~James

  4. Quite an amazing piece of art. Thanks for writing a post about the east coast as we are planning to spend some time in FL this winter, then head up the east coast to explore next year.

    • As I’m sure that you and Terry have discovered in your travels, if you take the time to look, just about anywhere has something of interest. We’ve lived and traveled in the eastern US for years, but if we get off the beaten path a bit, there’s still lots of cool stuff out there. ~James

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