The chain link is everywhere in the city centers. Here's how to dress it up.


A fence on a storage lot in a downtown area

Castle Rock, Washington, takes embellishment seriously. This storage lot is right in the middle of their beautiful downtown. That's what it looked like before turning it into an art gallery. Photo of Nancy Chennault.

You've already seen it: a chain link fence right in the city center. In general, there is barbed wire at the top. Let's face it, barbed wire is not the friendliest look for a downtown. We can do better.

Why a chain link in the first place?

When a company is left with empty land that it can use for downtown storage, there is a strong desire to fence it and protect its goods. The chain link topped with barbed wire is economical and easy.

Businesses still need to store things. Nobody wants to spend a lot of money to replace the fence with something more friendly. Heck, we do not even want to spend money if we can avoid it.

How could you make it better?

A group of us thought about some ideas for you:

  • Add colorful slats in rainbow patterns, waves, words or logos
  • Frame and hang at the chain link, indoors or outdoors
  • Hang twinkling lights at the fence and barbed wire
  • Wire tinsel garland of wire around the barbed wire
  • Hang concerts or streamers to dance in the wind
  • Install a sculpture exhibition in front of the fence (most fences are usually set back from the property line) or just behind the fence.
  • Create cutouts to hang on the fence
  • Hang orientation signs to encourage people to relax in the city
Chain fence made in a wall painting of a creek

The Boise, Idaho water recovery plant is equipped with this wire mesh wall. The colors are small cups designed to appear directly in the warp spaces. Photo by Becky McCray.

Painted fish shapes are hanging from a mesh fence

The Stream of Dreams "mural", consisting of individually painted fish shapes, dresses the fence along the school buildings in Castle Rock, Washington. Learn more about Stream of Dreams. Photo of Nancy Chennault.

How Castle Rock, Washington, has turned chainlink fences into art galleries

During my visit to Castle Rock, I indicated the storage lot located next to the hardware store on the photo at the top of this story. It will not go away, so why not use it to hang art? As it happens, they already had children's art hanging from chain-link fences just around the corner in a less visible place. So they moved it and added a big arrow indicating the nearby attractions.

Some art squares are hanging from a wire fence

Originally, art spaces were hanging in a hard to find place. Do you see these slats in the fence? You can easily use the slats to be more artistic with rainbow patterns or logos. Photo by Becky McCray.

Students hang art squares at a mesh fence.

The students helped move their work to a very visible location in the city center. Photo of Nancy Chennault.

Art squares hanging from the mesh fence are lined up.

The art now includes a large arrow to indicate to people the nearby animal pond and the old penitentiary park. You hardly notice the fence or the wire now. Photo of Nancy Chennault.

Have you seen a good link chain art?

I would like to see pictures of chain link fences that you have seen anywhere. Share ideas to inspire even more small towns to the most beautiful fences.

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About Becky McCray

Becky launched Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share stories and ideas of building businesses and rural communities with other small businessmen. She and her husband own an Alva, Oklahoma liquor store and a small ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

  • Need funding for the next stage of your business? – 17 July 2019
  • Youth business idea: telephone clinics – 8 July 2019
  • The chain link is everywhere in the city centers. Here's how to dress it up. – 30th June 2019
  • Stop using "3 foot stool" to describe an idea – June 24, 2019
  • What are your challenges? Add your voice here – 17 June 2019
  • How to make your bike lanes known before they are completed – June 10, 2019
  • How $ 5 and a bowl of soup can rebuild your community – 3 June 2019
  • Bring people to mix at an event – May 27, 2019
  • Crowdsourced Ideas for Cafes and Other Third Places – May 20, 2019
  • Post signs with your tourist hashtag where visitors will see them. – May 13, 2019

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