WEST HARTFORD — When museums and galleries were shuttered last year, artists painted bus shelters — making the town into a sort of “outdoor gallery,” the West Hartford Art League executive director said.
It wasn’t the first time that happened. And now, there’s a fundraising effort underway for a project that would have public art on a different canvas — concrete barriers, which have been used to section off areas to provide outdoor space for businesses, particularly restaurants.
“So this is kind of a continuation of that, of bringing art onto the streets,” said Roxanne Stachelek, West Hartford Art League’s executive director. “It just seems like a normal progression to do the barriers — they’re large, they’re white, they’re plain and why not showcase artists who are always looking to have their work seen.”
The effort — a collaboration between the art league, town and the arts commission — had over $2,900 in donations reflected on its fundraising page as of Thursday, with a goal of $5,500. Overall project costs are estimated to be $10,950.
If the project’s fundraising goal is met by May 17, Sustainable CT would chip in a matching $5,500, according to a town release sent out Wednesday.
Stachelek said the barrier art would be similar to the bus shelter art. The barrier art will be primed, painted and covered in a clear coat as a “anti-graffiti sealant.”
“And hopefully, they’ll stay up for quite a while and be in good shape,” she said.
Kristen Gorski, town economic development coordinator, wrote in an email that the town “is proposing approximately 32 concrete barriers between West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square,” but they haven’t officially determined how many will get painted.
Outdoor dining expansions lasted until mid-November 2020, according to Gorski. The town “will likely look” to follow that timing this year, which would be dependent “on weather and any cold weather precipitation events,” she wrote.
Stachelek said there’s been “a lot of enthusiastic response” to the project, which has the potential to benefit artists and restaurants. The state is planning to let up on certain COVID-19 restrictions for businesses on May 1, and more on May 19.
The group wants members of the community to take part in the project too, Stachelek said.
On May 23, they’re planning to have time when the public can come out to paint — artists would plan designs ahead of time, sketch them out on the barriers and members of the community would help them paint it.
“We want people to feel some ownership of these, it’s not like they’re just ours,” Stachelek said. “This is for the community. It’s to enhance the community, it’s to help the restaurants, and so the more people we can get involved, whether that is through making a $25 donation or coming that day and helping or helping to paint, that’s kind of the idea behind the whole process.”