More than 14 artists, two coordinators and a host of contributing residents will be part of a massive painted and wheat-paste mural effort throughout the downtown area this month – and effort that started last weekend and continues full speed at numerous locations.
Chelsea Prospers Director Mimi Graney said that Coordinators Carolyn Lewenberg and Amanda Hill have brought in a great group of artists and some very interesting concepts to decorate the City’s downtown area and some of its parks as well. The effort began Sept. 19 and has continued all week and will conclude in October, they said.
“It’s building on the work that was done last year on Division Street in particular,” said Graney. “It won’t be a total jarring transformation, but it’s definitely going to bring a lot of excitement and lighten up the alleyways. Part of why we will be focusing on Division Street in particular is that was an area with a lot of quality of life challenges. We want to encourage people to go there and not to avoid it.”
Hill said it’s about making art accessible to everyone and creating connections in these areas of the city.
“Public art has a sense of excitement,” she said. “From my point of view, doing work in cities – the idea of making space equitable for all and when we do these projects outside in public, there are so many crossovers that are valuable. You may neighbors down the street you’ve never talked to and now because of this you are able to meet one another. When you pay some attention to these spaces, you have more eyes on the street and they become safer.”
Lewenberg said the murals will be a safe way to re-connect with people after so much time spent inside or away.
“It’s a great way to engage the public in a way we haven’t been because we could not connect with each other,” she said. “We’ve been working in a virtual space and the recognition we’re still neighbors and we’re in community with each other is important…It’s a way to reconnect the community and of healing one another.”
Graney said none of the murals are related to COVID-19, but some do carry messages about what the community has gone through. Mostly, she said, it’s a renewing of the story of Chelsea.
“There was a lot of investment in public art here a couple of generations ago and that tells an older story,” she said. “What we want is for the people here today to tell their story.”
Already, Demetrius Fuller has begun an interesting musical themed mural on the back of the Apollinaire Theatre.
On Wednesday, artist Trippylandia (Gisell Builes) were on site at O’Neil Playground painting a space-themed mural. Also on Wednesday, Anna Duggan began putting up a wheat-paste mural (which lasts about six months) on the side of Roca.
There will also be wheat paste pieces on Cherry Street as well, including a Bird mural collage that Lewenberg has created with the assistance of numerous residents who have submitted bird photos or drawings.
Painted murals will appear on the side of Rincon Restaurant with ‘Hola Mi Gente’ by Yenny Hernandez, and a Cuban themed mural on the back of Caribbean Liquors by Chelsea’s Max Pro. Kim Barzola will paint a mural on the side of the new El Dorado Café, and the Sirens Crew – a group of six women – will create a large mural on the back of North Suffolk Mental Health’s building facing Division Street.
Chelsea’s Edwardo Chacon will paint ‘Chelsea Tropical’ on Cherry Street, and Molly Scannell will paint large murals dedicated to Chelsea’s Chick Corea and another to ‘Chelsea Heroes.’