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“Inside Out” Prevails, Celebrates
by Allan Appel | Sep 3, 2012 8:55 am
Posted to: Arts & Entertainment, Jocelyn Square, Upper State Street
Approximately 315 photographic portraits six feet high and four feet wide enlivening two formerly desolate underpasses; 150 gallons of stinky wheat paste glue pasted; more than $10,000 raised; 500 Facebook friends; 450 person-hours worked; and new friendships among Jocelyn Square-ites and Upper State Streeters and other East Rockers.
Those were some of the achievements celebrated and toasted late Friday afternoon as 50 people gathered at a corner of Jocelyn Square Park, where Fair Haven meets East Rock. Celebrants marked the achievements of Inside Out NHV.
That’s the all-volunteer grassroots public arts venture whose aim has been to transform anonymous highway infrastructure from dividers into neighborhood connectors.
Organizers photographed people form all walks of life and posted mural-sized reproductions under two highway overpasses that for decades wer criticized for dividing a neighborhood. Now that neighborhood has taken action to begin stitching itself back together.
By measure of the abundant pizza and the happy toasting and the passing cars pausing to toot their salutes at one of the sites transformed, the underpass at Humphrey Street and I-91, the project has been a success.
The other underpass transformed is at State and Bradley, the first effort of Inside Out NHV early in the summer. The first draft of photographs there had to be redone in the wake of an attack of taggers.
One of the project’s chief organizers, Higher One’s Miles Lasater (along with SeeClickFix’s Ben Berkowitz and New Haven Land Trust’s Chris Randall), hailed the project for “showing the power of community and art.”
Some of the portraits are already peeling, curling up, and fading away, a bit like a slow motion and photographic version of Tibetan Buddhist sand paintings.
That was all right with Lasater.
He said the party was called in a way to highlight “materials that can’t last. We wanted to catch [the photographs in] the last sunlight of summer.
Lasater called the enterprise unique because not only was it “an art opening under a freeway” but also a closing.
By closing he meant a moment to pause and celebrate, but not necessarily an end to the effort.
“We’ll be doing maintenance on the two sites” while deliberations go on about the group’s next public art gestures, he reported.