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‘ArtBarrier’ Murals for Outdoor Dining Areas in West Hartford Will Showcase Local Artists

LaSalle Road outdoor dining corrals in 2020. The plan for this year is to add art to the concrete barriers. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

Organizers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to receive a matching grant from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund, and are also looking for volunteers to enhance West Hartford’s outdoor dining spaces in 2021.

Outdoor dining at Arugula in 2020. (we-ha.com file photo)

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford’s restaurants created a vibrant ambiance in the Center and Blue Back Square last year, transforming expanded outdoor dining spaces that were intended to provide a boost to a business that was so hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic into what some described as “gardens of eating” with flowers, plants, and distinctive lighting – and in 2021 there are plans to take the beauty of the scene up a notch through public art.

The concrete and water-filled plastic barriers – which on their own are not very attractive – will be deployed for the 2021 season beginning May 5. The West Hartford Art League, Town of West Hartford, and the West Hartford Arts Commission are collaborating to bring an artistic component to the outdoor dining scene this year, and have launched a crowdfunding campaign through Sustainable CT. If the $5,500 goal is met by the campaign’s deadline, May 17, Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund will add a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $5,500 for the project.

Outdoor dining corrals when first deployed on Farmington Avenue in 2020. Photo credit: John Lyons (we-ha.com file photo)

“We think art enhances our community, and since 2006, when we commissioned ‘The Bear’ to artist Peter Busby of Cornwall, the West Hartford Art League has led an effort to place public work in public spaces,” Executive Director Roxanne Stachelek said in a statement. “In addition to helping local restaurants expand their dining footprints, this project will enhance our streets as it showcases work by local artists and energizes our community.”

Stachelek said the design for the murals will be created by the artists, and the plan is also to attract volunteers to participate in the completion of the project on a community paint day, currently scheduled for Sundays, May 23.

Local artists will be commissioned to lead the creative efforts. The overall cost of the project, including paint supplies and artist fees, is estimated at $10,950.

For more information about the ArtBarriers Mural project, including the link to donate, visit the Sustainable CT project page.

Economic Development Coordinator Kristen Gorski said the barriers will be deployed before the painting is done so the art doesn’t get damaged by the heavy machinery used in the installation.

Other examples of the West Hartford Art League’s public art projects can be found on the organization’s website. A specific webpage for the “artbarriers” will be added.

“Through the Community Match Fund, we aim to put residents at the forefront of creating positive, impactful change,” Abe Hilding-Salorio, community outreach manager for Sustainable CT, said in a statement. “Match Fund projects are community led and community funded, demonstrating the power of people working together to make change in their communities.”

Sustainable CT has provided a match for other projects in West Hartford, including the MLK39 Racial Equity Mural that will be unveiled on Juneteenth, new banners for the Center and Blue Back Square, and landscaping in Fernridge Park.

About Sustainable CT

Sustainable CT is an initiative of Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy that inspires, supports, and recognizes sustainability action by towns and cities statewide. The Community Match Fund – supported by the Smart Seed Fund, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and the Connecticut Green Bank – provides a dollar-for-dollar match to donations raised from the community, doubling local investment in projects. Anyone can lead a project and ideas can be proposed at any time.

Have a great idea for a public project in your community? Contact Sustainable CT at [email protected].

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