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CBS 19: Artist takes on fire hydrant project

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) — A fire hydrant near an Albemarle County volunteer fire department is getting a new look.

It’s part of an ongoing series that has already pained five hydrants around the area.

Richard Montoya, who is painting the hydrant near the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department, says being an artist is in his DNA.

“I grew up in a family that were artists,” he said. “My mom did a lot of slower decorations and did a lot of craftwork and I have a brother that went to a fine arts school. And I kind of followed suit.”

He is using the colors of the fire station in his design.

“The colors of the fire station here that’s local with red and white, so I’m just using red and white,” said Montoya. “So my base color was white and then I will start using red as my type and graphics on top of that.”

This project is part of the ongoing series called Art on Fire, which is put on through a partnership with the county, the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, the Charlottesville Mural Project and others.

“We are partnering with Albemarle County and the Albemarle County Service Authority to bring art to public spaces along roadways on fire hydrants,” said Alan Goffinski, the executive director of the Bridge PIA. “The unique canvas of a fire hydrant.”

Two other fire hydrants in the area also being painted by other artists this time around.

“Starting in 2020, we started with five hydrants throughout Albemarle County, including one at the service authority kind of headquarters,” said Goffinski. “And we are expanding that program as neighborhoods and businesses and communities get interested in this project.”

He says it’s a way to beautify the community.

“Art has an incredible ability to make places and communities more vibrant,” said Goffinski. “Art offers a unique opportunity for communities to embrace their own individual fingerprint and their own personalities.”

Each painted hydrant is very different in appearance, and it’s a way for artists like Montoya to use their talents to bring a stroke of goodness to a community.

“Everyone has a gift to give back to the community, and I think it’s so important, whatever your gifting is, and in my case being an artist, a conceptual work artist, I have that opportunity to display in an unusual and unique way,” said Montoya.