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We’re all too familiar with the plain old New York City garbage truck — but some of them are about to get a fabulous facelift. The Department of Sanitation’s “Trucks of Art” program is offering visual artists a chance to display their work on New York’s Strongest vehicles. 

Bronx Truck of Art by Lady K-Fever. Photo: James O’Connor/DSNY

The initiative calls for artists “professional, amateur and aspiring” to submit a brief description of their idea with design mock-ups for the chance to be selected by the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) to decorate one of their iconic 400-square foot trucks.

“Sanitation’s fleet is part of our cityscape – and we’re thrilled for New York City artists to transform collection trucks into roving works of art that will add a bit of flair to our neighborhoods,” said Commissioner Jessica S Tisch in a press release. “We’re excited for local artists to be using our ‘canvases’ to encourage New Yorkers to keep our City clean.”

Manhtatan Truck of Art by DISTER. Photo: James O’Connor/DSNY

Hoping to not only encourage but celebrate sustainability, the DSNY will give priority to proposals honoring sanitation’s essential workers as well as those whose art will encourage New Yorkers to use litter baskets and recycle. Those chosen will be given three seven-hour workdays and paint previously discarded or recycled to complete their masterpiece. The final products will be showcased in early to mid-October in conjunction with the DSNY’s nonprofit the Sanitation Foundation, before the trucks begin their routes to pick up refuse in style. The designs are covered in a clear coating to keep them protected for “as long as they can withstand the elements.”

Not a budding Picasso? You can help the DSNY’s zero-waste initiative by dropping off cans, sprays and tubes of unwanted paint at a  SAFE Disposal Event or the Department’s Special Waste Drop-off Locations. The artists chosen will select paints for their project, and the rest will be recycled or safely disposed.

The contest was previously held in 2019, and featured a showcase of truck artwork from painters Dister, Lady K-Fever, Misha Tyutyunik and Victor A Saint-Hilaire, Jillian White and the Energy Tech High School’s Visual Arts program in Times Square. 

Sanitation Trucks of Art line up on Broadway in 2019. Photo: James O’Connor/DSNY

All submissions must be emailed by Sunday, September 18 at 11:59pm to TrashTalk@dsny.nyc.gov, including artist contact information and a short biography. Full details of the Trucks of Art project, including submission information, is available at http://nyc.gov/truckart. Start your engines! 

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