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South Orange seeks artists for Valley Street mural

The South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) is looking for artists to design a mural for downtown South Orange.

Julie Doran, a member of SOVCA’s Board of Directors, called public art a “natural fit” to the Alliance’s mission “to create a sense of vitality in our downtown.”

“Public art adds enormous value to the cultural, aesthetic, and economic vitality of a community,” Doran said. “It is now a well-accepted principle of urban design that public art contributes to a community’s identity, fosters community pride and a sense of belonging and enhances the quality of life for its residents and visitors.”

According to the Alliance, the mural will be located at 20 Valley St.,with the theme of the design centering around harmony “and the idea that people are connected to each other and the world around us,” according to the application for the mural.


Doran said that the theme was chosen because “it seems appropriate to the times given what we’ve all been through this year.” 

While they must be painted, the murals can be of any design and any style as long as they fit the theme. The SOVCA did make a note, however, that the designs “should be suitable for public viewing of all ages and all members of our community,” as well as not being “political in nature.”

Submissions for the mural are going to be judged by a panel of five jurors. All five are “leading artists, curators, and gallery owners,” according to the SOVCA’s website, and while they will be the ones choosing the finalists for mural designs, it will be down to the Center Alliance to make the final decision. 

The SOVCA’s application did note that preference will be given to artists located in Essex County.

The artist or artists who are chosen to construct the vision “shall receive an honorarium of up to $4,000.00,” SOVCA’s application said. The artists “will be reimbursed up to $1,000.00 for materials and supplies.”

This isn’t the first mural that the SOVCA has helped create. Doran said the organization  “installed the ‘Jazz Cats’ [mural] between South Orange Ave and the Sloan Street parking lot.”

 “Our hope is to continue to install public art throughout the downtown,” Doran said. 

For those interested in applying, the due date for proposals is March 15. However, given the time that the jury is planning on reviewing the proposals and potentially contacting artists, SOVCA estimates that the project won’t begin until this summer, and the public can expect to see the finished mural by Sept. 1.

Sarah Bond can be reached at

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