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West Hollywood's rainbow crosswalks to be made permanent

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The rainbow-colored crosswalks that garnered national attention in June will become permanent fixtures, thanks to a recent decision by the West Hollywood City Council.

The proposal was brought to the city by Los Angeles-based artist Martin Duvander, who says he wrote to West Hollywood officials in April with the suggestion. “I saw those white crosswalks as an empty canvas and saw an opportunity to paint them and make a statement,” Duvander said.

The proposal, which picked up steam after it was sponsored Mayor Jeff Prang and Councilmember John Duran, passed through the council’s consent agenda on Monday, June 4, just in time for the annual LA Pride Celebration. The city covered the painting costs.

Revelers at that weekend’s LGBT pride celebration were some of the first to see the newly painted crosswalks, located at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica boulevards.

The council initially approved the crosswalk project to be painted for “LGBT Pride Month” – June 2012 – with the intention to restore the bricks to their original red color at the end of June. Because of the popularity of the crosswalks, the council recently voted to make it a permanent installation.

In an interview with West Hollywood Patch, Duran said the crosswalks, as well as the rainbow flags that line Santa Monica Boulevard, are important for the soul of the city.

“[The crosswalks] are critical to the tourists and young gay and lesbian people and not-so-young gay and lesbian people who are passing through from Iowa or Montana or Kansas,” Duran said. “They cannot believe that they actually see a municipality where the rainbow colors are on display all year long. It tells them it is a sanctuary. It tells them there is a safe place in America where the LGBT community is celebrated.”

Duvander is quite pleased that his idea has turned into a permanent fixture in the city.

“I am very proud, and super excited that West Hollywood city council chose to make the Rainbow Crosswalk a permanent landmark,” Duvander told SDGLN. “Being a small part of this whole project has been hugely fun, it’s been rewarding, it’s been exciting and at the same time I have learn a great deal about civil rights.

“I feel honored that I could be part of spreading this most important message of civil rights in my city - the City of Angels. With a permanent landmark like this I can only say thank you again to West Hollywood City Council for letting me be part of this project.”

Duvander intends to take his message of civil rights beyond the streets of West Hollywood.

He has plans for an art show in October to follow through with his initial goal of making the rainbow crosswalks a living piece of art that raises awareness for civil rights. Duvander has joined forces with LA Pride to put the event together and turn it into a civil rights and art celebration.

Duvander plans to donate a portion of the sales from the art event to local charities. More details on plans for the event will be announced soon.

Beyond the LA-area, Duvander hopes that his civil rights art project will go to other cities, with more rainbow crosswalks installed across the nation.

His team will help these cities plan events and fundraisers in conjunction with the project so that his message of civil rights and art can spread.

For now, those who live in or visit West Hollywood can check out the crosswalks which have remained intact. The initial installation, paid for by the city, cost about $13,000 and West Hollywood Patch reports that the crosswalk upgrade to make the rainbow colors permanent is estimated at $67,364.

The original painting has faded and shows skidmarks. A new thermoplastic marking will be installed to be slip-and-slide resistant, and will be less likely to fade.