ArtWorks Transforms Alleyways into Masterpieces

This unique project from ArtWorks creates an evolving artistic reinvention of Bolivar Alley.
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Photograph by Wes Battoclette

Slipping between the walls of Bolivar Alley means tumbling down a rabbit hole of colors, patterns, and textures. The 1,000-foot Pendleton passageway that treats passersby to an unorthodox (and free) art show was a neglected expanse of brick and stone just four years ago. Recognizing Bolivar’s potential, ArtWorks transformed it in 2018, partnering with Spring in Our Steps to create New Lines Phase II: Bolivar Alley. Five designers, two teaching artists, and 10 youth apprentices completed the project over the course of eight weeks. “It’s a straight shot, so you can really stand at one end and see the complete other end of the alley,” says Liz Miller, Director of Creative Projects at ArtWorks. The big picture is striking, but so are the alleyway’s individual components. If you’re not looking for them, you might step right over the semi-realistic lizards or miss the spelling of solidarity in stocky script. What’s more, Bolivar possesses a sentient quality; artists unaffiliated with ArtWorks consistently add to the collection. “It has evolved and taken on a life of its own, which we expected,” Miller says. “People have kind of gone rogue and added their own touches to the space over time.” Visitors just have to stop and stare.

Photographs by Wes Battoclette

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