By Mikael Krummel

The slogan imprinted on the 18-foot long, cartoon-like design affixed to the side of the LTD bus read “RELiSH the JOURNEY.” The image was a hot dog with wheels, blowing tiny hearts out of an exhaust pipe. Yes, the hot dog was slathered in relish!

Later this past winter, new images and slogans appeared on more than a dozen busses. One design on a rear panel featured a tiny heart on a cluster of purple fruit: “BORN for GRAPENESS.”

More hearts (and puns) are just around the corner.

The mobile designs and sentiments are the, ahem. . . heart-felt expressions of Dana Hawes-Davis. They represent Davis’s self-designed “doodle art” (her description) culled from her collection of pieces she refers to as JOY PSA. By the way, she’s self-financing her campaign.

Commercial branding? Product promotion? Ego inflation? No, for Davis, it’s really simpler than that. She’s on a personal mission she hopes will encourage others to spread joy.

“I can’t draw a straight line. I can’t draw a circle. My hands are kind of shaky,” says Davis with a chuckle, “but that’s okay. For me, it’s all about evoking something, whether it’s a laugh or a moment of softening when somebody’s stressed. It’s about shifting energy to something more positive.”

Davis’s most direct connection to spreading joy-based messages began a few years ago when she started crafting note cards from her doodles. The plan was to sell the cards at the Saturday Market. The cards soon gave way to small, laminated posters that she began tacking to phone poles and street lamps around town. Next came Instagram. Then she expanded her efforts to include sidewalk chalk drawings in public gathering places.

One day, while doing chalk art at a bus stop, Davis had a “eureka!” moment: Why not showcase her art in a mobile gallery? Why not use buses as mobile messengers?

“Our futures,” cautions Davis, “are so divided right now. Art is a place where people can come together. We are both people and birds. We sprinkle seeds wherever we can, and when the birds are ready, they come and feed. That’s when we become birds.”