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Bee murals beautify street closures in newest public art project

Hartford’s newest public art project brings a little bit of nature to the cement landscape on Ann Uccello and Allyn streets in Hartford. Parts of those roads have been blocked off so restaurants can put tables on the street. On Sunday, nine cement blocks stopping cars from entering were decorated with murals of native flowers and bees.

The work was done by artist Julie Bergeron, helped by teen volunteers working with RiseUP for the Arts, a local youth development mentoring program, whose initiatives include the CT Murals Project. Matt Conway, the founder of RiseUP, said the Hartford Chamber of Commerce hired RiseUP to paint the murals.

“They had these ugly cement blocks blocking the street off. They gave us full creative ownership of it to make the city a little more beautiful and to attract people to come and grab dinner and a drink outside,” he said. “Our idea was to bring nature to the city. Bees are important, and each of the flowers is a pollinating flower found locally in Connecticut.”

One of the bees is wearing a Hartford Yard Goats cap. Those who find that bee, take a picture of and post it to Twitter with the hashtag #hartfordsbuzzing will get a 10% discount at two restaurants, Aladdin’s on Allyn Street and The Tavern Downtown on Ann Uccello Street.

Julio Concepcion, executive director of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce, teamed up with LAZ Parking to fund the artwork. “RiseUP has been an incredible partner in the city for years. We especially like that they work with youth to create some of these murals,” Concepcion said. “We are looking for other ways to partner with them.”

For years, RiseUP has been creating murals all over the city, some educational, some in tribute, some to raise awareness, and some, like the bees, for beautification.

“Public art has the power to bring happiness to anyone. Even if it is for a split second as someone drives by a mural, that smile it puts on their face matters,” Conway said. “Public art can also be the thing that catalyzes an area’s economic redevelopment. Without vibrancy and culture, the people and businesses won’t come.”

Bergeron compared bees to public art. “Through pollination, bees are able to help plants grow. I like to think about public art the same way, adding color and art can help enliven spaces and stimulate economic growth,” she said.

RiseUP’s most recent projects include the multi-sided Black Lives Matter mural at the Swift Factory; murals in the parking area in front of Peppercorn’s restaurant; and a mural on a home garage at 35 Willard Street. Also, RiseUp created five murals in downtown Hartford in collaboration with the Hartford Business Improvement District: on the corner of Talcott and Main streets, on High Street, on the YWCA on Broad Street, on Kinsley Street, and an as-yet unpainted one at Hartford Stage.

On Oct. 10, artists affiliated with RiseUP — Lindaluz Carillo, Corey Pane, and Deka Henry — will live-paint three 5-foot-by-5-foot murals inside Dunkin’ Donuts Park, that can be purchased by mental health agencies and installed in locations in the city. The event is being held as a mental health awareness initiative presented in partnership with Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ and the Jordan Porco Foundation.

“On that day in the park, we’re going to break the Guinness Book record for the longest chain of carabiners. This is meant to represent that everybody has a link to someone to call for help,” Conway said.

Also as part of the mental health awareness project, a sculpture will be unveiled in October in Buckingham Square Park in Hartford, a 7-foot-by-7-foot, white-painted rebar “HOPE” sculpture modeled after Philadelphia’s famous “LOVE” sculpture. It was designed by Alyssa Haley of Born & Bred studios and is being fabricated by apprentices with the Hartford branch of the Iron Workers Union, Conway said.


Thanks to Susan Dunne at the Hartford Courant