Ted Coffey doesn’t consider himself an artist, but the Irricana resident is painting the town’s first ‘floating crosswalk’ to help spruce up the community.
“I have zero artistic ability. But, if you show me a small two-inch by two-inch picture, I can create one 10-feet by 10-feet,” he said. “We just wanted to do cool things that attract people, and it’s for the benefit of the town.”
Coffey is also Irricana’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) and won the title of Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All in 2012 – he said he likes to stay busy and the crosswalk art is just his latest project.
He said he first found the inspiration in a BBC article about an Icelandic floating crosswalk – painted lines that create the illusion of a 3D structure on the road.
Interested in the concept, he said he did a search online and found the crosswalks in China, Montreal, Que., and Beaumont, Alta.
“It’s called anamorphic art,” Coffey said. “There’s a whole bunch of different optical illusions involved.”
Once obtaining Irricana Town council approval to proceed with the artful addition earlier this year, he’s been hard at work painting two floating crosswalks at each of the town’s main entrances.
He added, the paint for the project was paid for by the Town, but the actual painting takes place in Coffey’s spare time and has not interfered with his CAO responsibilities.
To start, he said, he practiced drawing the design on large graph paper, before the road-canvas was pressure washed and barricaded.
Once he had perfected his floating crosswalk draft, Coffey chalked out the design on the road before getting to the painting.
“You have to drive a spike into the centre of the road with a long string and you stretch out the string and draw your chalk line along the string to establish all the correct sight lines,” he said.
Next, to make the 3D aspect pop, Coffey painted the tops of the bars white and the sides light blue.
He said he’s hoping the crosswalk will help address speeding in the community, but admitted it’s also a nice “novelty” for the town.
“It’s cute. It has the effect of slowing down traffic, and it’s colourful,” he said. “It’s the cool thing to do.”
Coffey describes himself as a “hands-on” individual and said h enjoys working on different projects. In 2012, his wife Debbie encouraged him to apply to Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All – a reality series on Discovery Channel Canada where, according to IMDB, a group of self-professed know-it-alls are recruited to compete to determine who is the nation’s greatest know-it-all.
Hoping to appease Debbie, he said, he applied and was cast on season one.
“They brought in 10 contestants and, in each week, a contestant would get eliminated…and I ended up winning,” he said.
Coffey said the “challenges” on the show were varied and included “weird stuff,” such as dropping a bomb from a plane onto a limousine, and reconstructing replicas of human skeletons.
Winning the contest was just one chapter in Coffey’s life of being a hands-on individual and, for now, he seems content with painting and finishing his floating crosswalks.
“It’s a fun thing to do when I’m out in the sun on a Saturday,” he said. “Life is good.”