Muralists excited to brighten up the fall season in Chelsea

Coffee was a common denominator for Muralist Kim Barzola and the owners of the new El Dorado Café.

Being from Peru originally, Barzola knew the life of a coffee farmer and what goes into growing and preparing the perfect coffees. Meanwhile, El Dorado owners are from Colombia and are very passionate about their coffees, Barzola said. So, when it came time to paint a mural on the old El Dorado Café property on Division Street, coffee was on the menu.

“Even though we are from different places, we both knew what the world of coffee farming is about,” said Barzola. “The owners of the bakery are from Colombia and Dominican Republic and we talked about what they wanted for the mural and what the community wanted…My family is originally coffee farmers in Peru. We wanted to portray the hard work that goes into that.”

Her mural will depict two coffee farmers in a tropical location – which will be familiar to many residents of Chelsea who hail from similar locales – taking a break and relaxing after a long day’s work. 

Meanwhile, last Friday, on Second Street, Yenny Hernandez was touching up the bright colors on her ‘Hola Mi Gente’ mural that brightens up a corner with few bright spots heretofore.

“It’s kind of a hello to the community,” she said. “It’s a moment of identification and a story that people will identify with. You’re also in Chelsea and you’re welcomed. I wanted to give a sense of that.”

The colors in the mural are very bright, and the palette of a tropical location that would be familiar to the many immigrants in the community from the islands or Central America. Hernandez is from Puerto Rico and said the colors remind her of the island. It is her first mural, and she said she is a graphic designer full time – so the mural has a lot of graphic elements and unique fonts that reflect her day job.

The flood of painted murals and wheat paste murals going up are a product of Chelsea Prospers’ effort this fall to bring scores of artists into the downtown to brighten it up, create some excitement and help the community heal from a difficult six months. It’s also an effort to update the public art in the community and have it reflect the stories of those that now live in Chelsea – hence the tropical theme in many of the murals.

Many more are to come, and coordinating artists Carolyn Lewenberg and Amanda Hill said the artists will continue working through mid-October.

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