A ballot box at an Under91 Project block party and cookout near the site of an upcoming community arts project was stuffed with the aspirations, visions and votes of artists, neighbors, and project organizers.
Within sight of the I-91overpass on Humphrey Street, a long corridor of concrete walls mottled with fading patches of blocked-out graffiti and the weathered markings of time, neighbors and arts organizers mingled in Jocelyn Square Park and studiously examined mural project proposals by five finalists drawn from a field of 20 submissions.
After a voting process that will include balloting from the cookout and online voting submissions, one project will move beyond the proposal phase to actualization, pending a successful online, fundraising effort on the crowdfunding Indiegogo platform. With three weeks to go in the campaign and a goal of $15,000, the fund is currently at 15 percent of goal. Money raised will help cover cost of materials, stipends for artists, and long term maintenance of a mural that will help brighten an otherwise bleak threshold bridging East Rock and Fair Haven communities.
Sunday’s cookout was part of a community outreach effort that organizers have waged. It might be the envy of any poltiicial candidate. Organizers have canvassed neighbors in both communities seeking input and support for the project. “People need to feel ownership,” said organizer Yonatan Landau. “A range of both professional and street artists are included. We wanted to open it up to a spectrum, we wanted the project to be inclusive.”
Artists, whose project illustration proposals were hung on a metal fence, discussed their ideas Sunday with those who had come out to vote and learn more about the project.
Interestingly, not all the images displayed were final designs, but examples of the kind of work that might be created. A cadre of artist groups comprising the “Bright Big Wall” project proposal, displayed an assortment of images, including graffiti murals by Hi Crew, a group of graffiti artists who have earned the trust of the community according to Hi Crew artist Ryan Christenson (pictured) of Wallingford. “People have developed a comfort level with our work. We are the oldest crew in the state of Connecticut and we are known on a worldwide basis. They’ll have to trust what we do.”
Artist Damian Paglia’s community team effort would be modeled after and embody the spirit of a mural created by several groups: Free Artists of New Haven, Free Skool and LGBT Youth, and their recent Fair Haven mural depicting the Spanish word “Levantate” (rise). Paglia said his group’s mural would tackle the universal theme of love, and community members would be invited to work on the piece.
Another artist, Rachel Paupeck (at left in photo), displayed a mailer along with her mural schematic. A graphic displaying several kite outlines would be mailed out to neighborhoods soliciting small kite design renderings and color schemes that would be added to the mural at a larger scale, as another example of community inclusion. Examples of artists’ proposals can be viewed here.
A final tally, including online ballots, is not expected until the close of voting on Tuesday at 11:59 p.m.. The winning proposal is expected be announced later in the week and posted to the Under91 project website.