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Something in the WATA at An Occasion for the Arts

Eclectic artist Sally St. Rose paints with acrylics, sculpts, illustrates children’s books and designs product logos.

She’s turned her shoes into giant paintbrushes before applying them to a giant canvas. She occasionally performs burlesque.

Now she can add something new to that portfolio — bus design.

St. Rose created the winning submission for the Bus Wrap Competition, a community art project open to Historic Triangle residents that will involve wrapping a Williamsburg Area Transit Authority (WATA) bus in art. CultureFix and WATA partnered to sponsor the competition.

Her winning design applied to a bus will be unveiled as part of An Occasion for the Arts on Oct. 2-3, 2021, at Merchants Square. St. Rose will receive $500 and the bus will go into regular service, toting community members around town.

“I’ve worked with a lot of different media platforms, but never a bus before,” said St. Rose, a self-taught artist who sketches out her dreams first thing most mornings. “I saw the template and knew exactly what I wanted to do.”

Her idea stems from the acronym WATA, which made her think of the word “water” with a Boston accent.

“Water carves its own path,” she said. “Williamsburg is on a different path right now. I really believe it’s an up-and-coming city. You’re going to hear more about it in the next 10 years.”

Her professional Instagram account is full of examples of her artwork (many involve her passion for rescuing hairless cats), and she’s persnickety about details. In designing art meant for a bus, she had to be careful not to include too many.

“It’s not a flat image; things get distorted,” she said. “You have to make sure it’s readable from close and far away.”

Lance Pedigo, Logistics Program Manager at CultureFix and a board member for An Occasion for the Arts, said the bus will be “a roving piece of art that goes through town.”

St. Rose looks forward to attending An Occasion for the Arts for the first time. She only recently moved to Williamsburg and the festival was not held in 2020 due to the pandemic. Her husband, Coty, is former military, and St. Rose likes to say she’s “from everywhere,” having lived in California, Italy and Kansas for starters.

St. Rose was at work on a design project on her iPad when she spotted the email informing her that her artwork won first place. “I’m so excited; I love it,” she said. “Every time I see it, I’m going to think, ‘That’s my bus!’ ”

The bus will be unveiled in the courtyard by the Blue Talon Bistro and Baskin-Robbins.