Leslie Skibo likes to imagine families driving through Ocean City, chancing upon the 8-foot by 12-foot metal dog sculpture at Tennessee and Bay avenues.

"I keep thinking of little kids in a car, going, 'Oh my gosh, look at that big dog!'" said the president of the Community Arts Project.

The project is an all-volunteer, nonprofit group that raises funds to install art projects around Ocean City. It has arranged for volunteer artists to paint traffic signal boxes at intersections, and has paid for murals and sculpture in all kinds of places.

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For the first time, CAP will hold a fundraising run to help the group keep the art flowing into town. The 5K run/walk and one-mile kids' fun run will be on the Boardwalk September 15, said Skibo.

The goal is to attract about 300 to 400 runners, she said.

Until now, the group has solicited donations for specific projects and its only annual fundraiser had been an adults-only Halloween costume party that attracts about 200 people and raises about $6,000 a year. That will continue, Skibo said.

"You'll be blown away when you see the costumes. And it isn't just artists who come," said Skibo. "It's everybody - the chief of police, the mayor. It's one big fun party."

Funds raised buy paint and supplies for volunteer artists who have so far transformed 22 traffic boxes at intersections all over the city.

They also purchase large art pieces, like the sculpture "Joy" by Somers Point's Jose Chora, of the Chora Leone Gallery on Bethel Road. It was installed in early August at the Ocean City Community Center at 14th Street and Haven Avenue.

Chora has created a sculpture from a piece of steel from the remains of the World Trade Center, also paid for by CAP fundraising. It will be dedicated September 11 in front of the fire department at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue, Skibo said.

The art on the traffic boxes, done by local artists who volunteer their labor, has elicited lots of response.

"I was downtown the other day and saw four women getting their picture taken in front of one of the first traffic boxes we did," she said. "It was exciting to me they are taking it back to their town."

Skibo, whose grandchildren are the seventh generation of her family to summer in Ocean City, started CAP in 2004 as a way to fund a mural at the city's entrance at 9th Street and West Avenue, on the side of a storage building by what was then a vacant lot.

She brought together people interested in the arts, and started a 501c3 nonprofit. The group commissioned Cape May artist Victor Grasso to paint "Daydream Junction," which included a floating ship in a fantasy landscape.

After the mural went up in 2005, CAP helped create Gateway Park, a small park with plantings and a fountain at the site, funded largely by the county. The mural began crumbling in 2008 because of damage to the underlying wall, and had to be destroyed to repair the wall.

The plantings at the park have grown so much, CAP doesn't feel the need to put another mural there, Skibo said.

But the group has made some changes to make sure it doesn't lose another art piece.

"Now all murals our murals are painted on boards and attached to walls," she said. "Should it happen again, they can be removed."

CAP has already moved the "Sports Illustrated" mural from the wall of a former gym on 8th Street and West Avenue, which became a church, to Shoemaker Lumber on West between 11th and 12th streets, she said.

To see CAP's art around town, visit communityartprojects.com and click on "projects."

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


If You Go

Run for the 'Art of It'

5K run and 1-mile fun run for children, registration 7 a.m. Sept. 15 at the Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and the Boardwalk, Ocean City. Race applications at communityartprojects.com and at the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center at 16 E. 9th St. For information, contact Louise Nunan at 609-398-5068.

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