West Hartford resident Jeff Shaw’s latest adventure was a tour of art found in yards and other spaces throughout town.
By Jeff Shaw
West Hartford has a vibrant art scene. Art is everywhere; in galleries, showcases, stores and eateries as well as public spaces like parks, in bus shelters, on building walls, even in neighborhood yards.
The benefits of public art are numerous – it often captures a moment in time, can challenge beliefs, honors history and culture, enhance a landscape, and so much more, all the while telling a story. The types of public art range from commissioned sculptures hidden in plain sight to whimsical illustrations in surprising locations. In West Hartford, both can be found in the green spaces of our neighborhoods.
According to Americans for the Arts, there has been a notable increase in public art tours likely tied to increased use of public spaces during the pandemic. The trend is expected to grow globally – and is flourishing in West Hartford.
Over the last few weeks, a series of art and cultural activities has literally painted the town. For “starters” (appetizer pun intended), the downtown outdoor dining corrals have been transformed into ArtBarriers thanks to the West Hartford Art League. The League also hosts the popular spring and fall art hunts, among other programs.
The weekend of June 5, the WeHa Artists Emporium’s Art Trail traversed the Morley School neighborhood. The walkable art trail included six stops in neighborhood yards with over a dozen local artists and crafters.
An opportunity to buy local arts and crafts that is available through the end of June is the Celebrate! West Hartford online marketplace.
Also the weekend of June 5, the West Hartford Symphony Orchestra performed a free outdoor concert in front of Town Hall encouraging BYO blankets and foldable chairs (“Tanglewood style”). On Juneteenth, West Hartford’s MLK39 Racial Equity Mural will be unveiled on the side of the Noah Webster Library.
Last month, Art at the Gastropark pop-ups began and run through October on weekends. Also in May, an open mic poetry reading was held at Westmoor Park as were rotational art showcases at Pompanoosuc Mills and at the Mandell Jewish Community Center.
Indeed, there is no shortage of ways to experience and support local artists.
To compliment the vibrant art scene, below is a list of lesser known sculptures, murals, and other creative works scattered across West Hartford. I call it the Yard Art Trail, a colorful way to discover West Hartford.
- “The Bear,” “Susan,” “Chaos,” the painted quilt wall, at the West Hartford Art League campus on Buena Vista Road
- “Woman at the Mirror” on Mountain Terrace
- “Flames on the Tree” off Braeburn Road
- Tree sculptures on Willowbrook Road
- “Figure 8” on Hunter Drive
- Rock Art on Canal Road
- ArtBarrier by Nicole Leavens on Farmington Avenue
- Bus Shelter by Anna Loewenthal on Farmington Avenue
- “Tree Faces” on Ellsworth Road
- “Elmwood, Through the Ages” Mural on New Britain Avenue
- “Rocket Bird” on Old Brook Road
- Gingerbread-style homes on Magnolia Hill Road
Note: Gardens, yard accents, and other architecture styles are certainly creative and warrant their own trail!.
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