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Art in the Heart: Paint the Pipes is a public art project by the Downtown Association of Fairbanks and Project Fairbanks to hire local artists to paint the vent pipes along the streets and sidewalks of downtown before September 24th, the final day of the Downtown Market. This project aims to add vibrancy to the downtown streetscape, enhance the built environment, and provide a splash of color that is pleasing to both visitors and locals.

The Downtown Association is proud to announce that thirteen pipes will be completed before the end of summer 2012, and the chosen artists and designs are being revealed through a daily post on Facebook.

Karen Austen, Sarah DeGennaro. Lucas Elliott, Mica Fairchild, David Hayden, Mica Hendricks, Dan Kennedy, Nikki Kinne, Midnight Sun Junior Roller Girlz, Laura Nutter, Gail Priday, Iris Sutton, and Kate Wood have each been chosen to paint a pipe as a local artist with a design proposal that the selection committee found striking, professional, and relevant to life in Fairbanks. Work has already begun on several of pipes and will continue throughout the month. The project has already begun to transform the aesthetics of downtown in the eyes of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

If you support this project, please consider making a donation (from $1-$1,000) through Kickstarter, which allows individual donors to contribute money to and earn rewards from creative projects. Art in the Heart: Paint the Pipes is currently at 85% of a $1,500 fundraising goal, and all donations collected through this site will fund the completion of one pipe (to be revealed through Facebook on Monday).

The Downtown Association would like to thank UAF Community & Technical College, Gallery 49, 2 Street Gallery, Mt. McKinley Bank,, Big Ray’s, Tanana Valley State Fair, Golden Heart Utilities, S Salon, Aurora Energy, Wes Madden Real Estate, Fairbanks Ice Museum, Santa’s Vagabond Traveler, Spring Hill Suites Marriott, PAWS for Adventure, and Kickstarter donors for contributing to this project.

Click here for a map of artists, pipe locations, and sponsors.


World of Winter by Sarah DeGennaro

“Until I moved to Fairbanks, I never realized how sparkly snow could be, or how it could stack flake upon flake without becoming a wet, white blob. This is one of the wonders that is often overlooked when people talk of the extremely cold, dry climate. Fairbanks has the most beautiful snowfalls I have ever witnessed, and in this pipe design, viewers will be able to enjoy the intricacy of snow crystals at monumental scale and detail.”


Fun Under the Midnight Sun by Midnight Sun Junior Roller Girlz.

“Celestial, Alaskan, sunny, and bright like our team! Plus, a great community service project to teach responsibility, dedication, and art.”

Dreaming by Mica Hendricks.

“When I first came to Alaska, winters were spent with my young daughter, doing my best to come up with things for her to do. This represents children, and the dreams and imagination they have.”



Fairbanks by Mica Fairchild

“Northern lights shown on the top of the pipe with the big dipper shown, below them an out line of downtown Fairbanks and the north star above the city and the city’s name in gold. On one side of the bottom of the pipe will be a river with a gold pan pouring out gold nuggets, along with spruce trees and forget me not flowers. On the other will be more flowers and a large gold rock with the Fairbanks golden heart above it.”

Spirit Dance by Lucas Elliott.

“The idea for my pipe is that sense of whimsy and wonder that makes up what Alaska can be at times. A simple design of a girl and her pup, enjoying the dance of the Aurora. The Northern Lights wrap around the top part of the pipe, slowly dancing their way down to the trees. The tree’s are layers upon one another using lighter colors to create depth of the scene. At the front of the scene will a girl with her dog, dancing along with the stars.”


Downtown Shoppers by Laura Nutter.

“My design includes my 3 Fairbanks favs, Fox, Moose, and Raven, whooping it up downtown…real party animals! I believe my design using color, movement, and whimsy will brighten any corner of Fairbanks, and is easily adaptable to any size of vent pipe. ”












Up Stream by Kate Wood.

“The design is of colorful salmon swimming upstream (around the pipe) the salmon will be swimming over colorful river rock. At the top of the pipe there will be an array of the beautiful coral, pink drying salmon – hanging down the pipe meeting up with the river.”


Musk Ox by Iris Sutton.

“Musk Oxen are unique characters and really fun to paint. For this project I would also use bright colors and multiples to surround the pipe on all sides with a circle of Musk Oxen. Where they will be standing is a rocky somewhat barren fall-like landscape.”


Lingonberry Love by Gail Priday.

“Lingonberries are one of my favorite berries to pick, eat and paint. Few experiences in life compare to the joy of coming into a bountiful patch of ripe, red berries in early fall. I would like to paint a pipe featuring giant clusters of this powerful antioxidant growing against a bright blue Fairbanks sky.”


Pet Dreams by Karen Austen.

“One side of the pipe will show a dog and above him, the things he is dreaming of; biscuits, food bowls, a dog house, etc. On the other side of the pipe there will be a cat and her dream objects of food bowls, a toy mouse, a couch, etc. The background will suggest the northern lights. The image will wrap around the pipe, covering the front of the pipe and as much of the back of the pipe that is visible.”












Fireweed by Nikki Kinne

Nikki’s pipe was painted as a “trial run” for Art in the Heart: Paint the Pipes and features a fireweed design that wraps around the pipe, located on 2nd Avenue. Nikki gleaned inspiration from her love of fireweed and the natural beauty of Alaska, and based her painting on a number of watercolor and acrylic fireweed paintings she’d completed in the past. Nikki works as a professional artist and co-owner of Gallery 49 in the Co-Op Plaza.

Marilyn in Bunny Boots by Dave Hayden

“Bold color will enliven. Strong images will catch people’s eyes. Bunny boots, a Fairbanks icon, on an American icon, Marilyn Monroe, is a clever mash up.”


Interior Alaskan Images by Daniel Kennedy

This design incorporates an Alaskan landscape with recognizable flora and fauna, and the northern lights dancing overhead.


  1. Hi Rick! Thanks for asking. The pipes are designed to provide a fresh air intake for the utilidor that runs underground and houses all the steam heat, cable TV, domestic hot water, and communications infrastructure for downtown. It’s been described to me as “like having a window open” in allowing air to flow into and out of the utilidor. Thanks!

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