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Weekend of Mural Creation in West Hartford

ArtMural in front of Bricco on LaSalle Road designed by artist Courtney Silvia. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Eight ArtBarrier murals in West Hartford Center were painted Sunday, and on Saturday, work began on the MLK39 Racial Equity Mural.

Maddie O’Connell of West Hartford, 11, at left, painted a heart that she said could be a watermelon or strawberry while her sister, Grace, 9, painted a flower inside her heart. The community was invited to participate in the creation of ArtBarrier murals by painting the hearts, and participants donated to the Food Pantry. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

A flurry of public art has been under creation in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square, and over the weekend dozens of artists transformed formerly blank concrete spaces into spectacular murals enclosing the outdoor dining corrals.

Expanded outdoor dining has greatly enhanced the vibrancy of West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square already – but the addition of the murals, funded through donations and a match by Sustainable CT Community Match Fund, will bring the “gardens of eating” to a new level.

Brian Colbath finishes his ArtBarrier mural which encloses the outdoor dining corral for Savoy, Shish Kebob House, and Division West. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

There are now 11 ArtBarrier murals in all.

Three murals were painted in Blue Back Square last weekend, and on Sunday morning, beginning at 7 a.m., the artists who designed the murals for the concrete barriers in the Center, along with crews of their assistants, descended on LaSalle Road and Farmington Avenue – both of which were closed to traffic for the duration of the painting.

Biographies of the 11 artists chosen by the West Hartford Art League to create the ArtBarrier murals can be found here.

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Max’s Oyster Bar on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

There was opportunity for public participation as well.

West Hartford Art League Executive Director Roxanne Stachelek stenciled templates of hearts on a barrier at the corner of Farmington Avenue and LaSalle Road, for amateur artists of all ages and abilities to paint.

Members of the community paint hearts on the barrier at the corner of LaSalle Road and Farmington Avenue. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

While the roadways were closed to traffic, children sat on the ground creating chalk drawings.

In addition to the painting of the ArtBarrier murals, this weekend marked the start of the creation of the MLK39 Racial Equity mural on the side of the West Hartford Library.

Matt Conway (left) and artist Corey Pane stand in front of the West Hartford Public Library wall where Pane has started work on the MLK39 Racial Equity Mural. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Matt Conway, executive director of RiseUP, which through CTMurals is coordinating the creation of MLK39 murals throughout the state, said there were about 20 people who helped paint the base blue color for the mural, which will cover the entire south side wall of the Noah Webster library branch, as well as wrap around to the front, with important figures in both national and local civil rights efforts.

The “39” signifies the age at which King died.

Prominent national figures to be featured on the mural will include Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Bernard Lafayette, and Stacey Abrams. State Rep. Tammy Exum, Gertrude Blanks (the first Black graduate of West Hartford’s Hall High School), and Bristow, an enslaved man from West Hartford who was freed and is the namesake of one of the town’s middle schools, will also be represented.

The mural is being designed and painted by professional and nationally-recognized artist Corey Pane, a West Hartford resident. Pane said the bulk of the work on the mural will begin on June 8, and he will be onsite painting every day until the mural is unveiled at the town’s Juneteenth celebration on June 19.

Conway said likely another community paint day will be scheduled once Pane begins the next phase of the project.

Hearts painted by members of the community on barriers in West Hartford Center. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

ArtBarrier mural designed by Kiley Mattson in front of Harvest Wine Bar. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Brian Colbath’s ArtBarrier mural encloses the outdoor dining corral for Savoy, Shish Kebob House, and Division West. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Painting of ArtBarrier in front of Vinted. Photo courtesy of Renee McCue

Painting of ArtBarrier in front of Place 2 Be. Photo courtesy of Renee McCue

ArtBarrier in front of World of Beer in Blue Back Square. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier mural in front of Bricco LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center. May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Harvest Wine Bar on LaSalle Road on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Union Kitchen and Wurst Haus on LaSalle Road on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Savoy, Shish Kebob House and Division West on LaSalle Road on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Zohara and Donut Crazy on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Zohara and Donut Crazy on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kids enjoy painting with sidewalk chalk in the middle of Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kids enjoy painting with sidewalk chalk in the middle of Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Kids enjoy painting with sidewalk chalk in the middle of Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

ArtBarrier Mural in front of Treva on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Arugula on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Creation of ArtBarrier Mural in front of Max’s Oyster Bar on Farmington Avenue on May 23, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Artist Corey Pane, with the assistance of about 20 members of the community, started work on the MLK39 Racial Equity Mural in West Hartford on May 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Artist Corey Pane, with the assistance of about 20 members of the community, started work on the MLK39 Racial Equity Mural in West Hartford on May 22, 2021. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Artist Brian Colbath has restored the Pride flag painted on Isham Road in Blue Back Square.

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