The drab gray of concrete barriers block off Ocean Avenue in Belmar, as construction progresses behind the waist-high slabs. These barriers signal to "Keep Out," that vehicles can't get through, that this area is off-limits and damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
But not long after the concrete barriers arrived, the Belmar Arts Council helped hatch a plan to have local artists paint them, transforming a symbol of flux and prohibition into one of beauty and hope.
Now, more than a dozen of the barriers feature hand-drawn mermaids, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz on the beach, and messages of pride for the Jersey Shore.
Bleak concrete gray was painted vibrant blue as a base color, one that ended up the color of ocean in local artists' paintings of the slabs. One barrier is a painted postcard showing a sunny beach scene, its message "See you in 2013." Another triumphantly proclaims: Belmar Strong.
Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay said the barriers looked beautiful. "They've done a tremendous job...I encourage everyone to go take a look."
The borough asked the Belmar Arts Council to help lift the spirits of residents, especially those near the beachfront, and 14 barriers along A Street between 7th to 20th Avenues now have an art project.
Most of the barriers were assigned in the first six hours of the announcement of this project on Dec. 5, and many artists immediately took to painting their barrier that weekend. Others, such as local artist Zolbayar Uguumursaikhan, continues to work on his mural.
Zol, who works in abstract expressionism genre, has the Belmar mural barrier project on 14th and Ocean avenue. "I haven't had a chance to paint yet but will be as soon the weather and my schedule allows," Zol said, one of about a dozen volunteers who helped paint.
Many others are completely done with their mural. As projects progress images of the final pieces of art are posted on the Belmar Arts Council site, here.
Belmar Paint & Decorating donated 20 gallons of blue paint being used as undercoat on all barriers, as well as several dozen brushes.