Lifting up artists and celebrating a community

Art brings people together. By capturing what makes us human, artists help give a community its identity and vibrance. During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, we needed that more than ever.

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So when one innovative art project in Durham, North Carolina, came up against the challenges of quarantine and COVID-19, we did whatever we could to help.

It all began when a real estate customer of ours contacted us about a project at a redeveloped mixed-use complex called University Hill (or UHill, if you’re from the Bull City). 

For the UHill Walls project, the goal was to turn more than 40,000 square feet of the complex — including a four-story apartment building — into a canvas for artists from both local communities and all across the country. The project would allow art lovers in the community to enjoy a walkable outdoor gallery with live artists at work.

At first, our task was simple: coordinate lifts for artists while they created more than 40 murals on the UHill complex. So, we built a plan that included 60-foot manlifts, scissor lifts, generators, ladders and other equipment.

The challenge came with the onset of COVID-19, which prompted several delays and reconfigurations. Our team pivoted from the initial plan that accommodated traffic flow to adapt our equipment recommendations for lower costs. In each case, we adapted smoothly to bring the project to life.

When the event took place in September, we worked together as a team to stage the equipment around landscaping, lighting and other site accents while working to help each artist complete their piece. When one artist needed a lift over a pool area, we made it happen and connected our customer with a crane operator.

The artists worked for about a week and, in the end, delivered a breathtaking masterpiece: one of the largest mural collections in the Southeast. At Sunbelt Rentals, we were happy to play a role in bringing that vision to life.

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