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New London Receiving New Murals Through "City Canvases"

Department of Economic and Community Development awards grants to seven cities to promote downtown arts projects

and the city of New London are seeking artist proposals after receiving $126,000 from the Department of Economic and Community Development for the creation of downtown murals.

The money was part of the department’s “City Canvases” program and will be used to fund four new murals as part of the project “Wall to Wall: The New London Mural Walk.” These artworks will be added to the outer walls of , , and the Hygienic Art stage as well as the side of a water-facing tower at the .

According to the Department of Economic and Community Development, City Canvases is a one-time initiative to enhance public spaces by bringing “mural-based public art into downtown spaces throughout the state of Connecticut.” The cities eligible for funding were Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, Middletown, Milford, New Britian, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Torrington, and Waterbury.

“It was an opportunity that we couldn’t let go by,” said Vincent Scarano, president of Hygienic Art.

“We fully understand that it is the arts community that has been the economic driver, particularly for downtown,” said Mayor Daryl Finizio at a press conference held outside the whale mural created by Mark Wyland at a building on Eugene O’Neill Drive.

The plan calls for the creation of a six-block walking tour to and from Parade Plaza that will include nine existing downtown murals as well as the new art. The new murals will be face Eugene O’Neill Drive and complement the whale mural. The parking garage will feature a fifty-foot high trompe l’oeil, creating a three-dimensional effect, and will be within view of passengers arriving in New London by ferry and train.

Scarano said the budget includes costs for resurfacing the walls in preparation for painting as well as scaffolding, lighting, and other materials. The artist fees to be paid will be $28,500 for the Homeward Bound Treasures building, $20,000 for the parking garage, $17,500 for the Caruso Music building, and $12,500 for the Hygienic stage.

Caruso currently has a small mural on it which may or may not be painted over. Scarano said artists will also not be limited to paint and may propose the use ceramics or other materials.

The , Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, City Center District, OpSail 2012, SailFest, and the New London Parking Commission also partnered with the city and Hygienic Art in supporting the effort. A public relations team will promote the project.

The deadline for artists to apply to work on Wall to Wall is March 30. Application information is available at the Hygienic Art website. The creation of the murals is expected to begin by April 16.

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NewLondonSource March 09, 2012 at 03:27 PM
“We fully understand that it is the arts community that has been the economic driver, particularly for downtown,” said Mayor Daryl Finizio Perhaps 'an' economic driver, but definitely not 'the' economic driver. We can respect the arts without overblowing their contribution to the economy. The truth of the matter is that the bulk of the downtown economy is driven by the many restaurants and bars that we have whose business would still be there (perhaps with different patronage) with or without the Hygienic-centric community.
William Desmond March 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
If this is the city owned garage how can they have someone paint it other than public works union employees?
Wstlyguy March 09, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Why do people have to hate on this whole thing? This is a great opportunity for artists to make New London look better and more friendly. The arts community was, is a great driver of development in the Bank Street area. Without the musicians and other artists, people would not be drawn to the area to warrant all the restaurants and bars. I also argue that the new mayor did a great job here and without his office this may not have happened. New London is on an upswing here.
NewLondonSource March 10, 2012 at 11:48 AM
@Wstlyguy: I can understand your misconception, since the arts in New London are so overblown, but I would be willing to bet that the opposite is true - the bars and restaurants cause people to mill around and patronize the galleries. I'm not saying the arts aren't important - far from it - but when the effect or value of anything is overblown, it warrants correction. The arts contribute to the economy of downtown New London - they do not drive it. That said, I'm not including the Garde in my assessment, primarily because most people I see that attend the Garde leave the city or go home directly after the show is over, perhaps hitting Hannfin's for an after show aperatif, although that's hardly helping the majority of businesses.
Alan Green, Jr. March 10, 2012 at 01:24 PM
My personal anecdote is quite different. It was a local artist hyping the Hygenic's Annual Salon that first brought our attention to NL downtown. The bank street place where we'd caught bands had been hit or miss. The sailfist fireworks were a traffic nightmare (so we watched from groton most of the time). But the salon - and the hygienic - and the people with the energy there, attracted us. I like to say that in San Francisco, they sing, 'We built this city on rock n roll'. I'd sing, 'We built this city on Art (and rock n roll).' I can't dismiss the Garde in this mix, another draw for us, but it was the collective consciousness created under the wise leadership of Vinnie and Jim that brought US to New London. We came for the art and have stayed for the community, creativity, intelligence and drive that we've discovered is represented by the Hygenic at its core. And the artistry goes to the other fantastic, thriving galleries - large and small - of our city, but also to the restaurants' interiors, the local and imported musicians, the great food, the incredible creative service we receive up and down bank and state streets. Our murals do and will represent this energetic, whole hearted commitment to art here in New London and they set us apart from any other place in the North East. These three murals are just the start of a new wave of art, celebrating this town's richest resource! Congrats to Vinnie and the gang!
Amanda March 10, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I love it. You know, there always is and always will be someone who wants the money to go elsewhere, but, The Hygienic found this grant and they went after it. They sought what they wanted, and they got it. The government didn't just say "Oh hey, look, a small, artsy town, let's give them money!". Good for the Hygienic for taking the initiative to get what they want.

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