Graffiti art turns a negative into a positive
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., Jun. 29, 2011
“I’ve painted over graffiti on that wall myself,” said Manchester Police Department Sgt. John Wilson, Police Area Representative supervisor, while watching three young artists create a spray-painted mural on the NAPA building on the corner of Spruce and Maple Streets, just a couple blocks east of downtown’s Main Street. The mural was completed in one day, on Sunday, June 26. “I see this as a win-win,” said Wilson about the collaboration on the mural project with the town administration, the private property owner, the East Side Livable Neighborhood Group and other organizations. “This is clearly artwork.”
The project was brokered by Chris Silver, director of the Office of Neighborhoods and Families. Silver knew the ESLNG was looking for ways to bring artwork into the East Side, and at the time he was arranging with the art department at Manchester Community College to have a group of Nathan Hale Elementary Schoolchildren study art at
“We’re excited to bring art and beauty to our neighborhood,” said Leslie Frey, president of ESLNG. “We’re getting a lot of positive feedback,” she said, both about the new mural and the recently-painted “stained glass” windows installed in the front of the NAPA building. “Hopefully, we will turn negative images into positive ones.”
The mural design was a collaboration by three artists, who have requested to remain anonymous. ESLNG asked for a natural, floral mural, and approved the design sketch as provided by the artists. The mural itself is at least 10 feet by 20 feet, full of color and surprisingly detailed, considering it was painted completely with spray cans. The artists volunteered their time, and the funds to purchase the paint came from the sale of art at the opening of the East Side Youth Public Safety Building.
“This is really different for me,” said one of the artists, referring both to the size and the medium. He usually paints in oils. “It seemed like fun,” was his explanation for joining the project.
“It’s really cool,” said another artist about the project being supported by the town and the neighborhood. He said he does this type of art once in a while and learned of the mural by word of mouth.
“This brought us together,” said the third artist, who usually paints backgrounds.
“Everyone was supportive,” said Silver, “right up to the city manager.” Silver credited Scott Shanley, Manchester’s general manager, for being willing to consider things “outside the box.”
“Everything that’s happening within the Master Plan requires a behavioral change,” added Silver, referring to the Children, Youth and Family Master Plan. He views recent projects, such as the graffiti mural, as reflective of people being open to new ideas.
“It’s a very interesting concept and draws together a lot of creative outlets in town,” said Tana Parseliti, manager of the Downtown Manchester Special Services District. She added that it might be an interesting discussion point to see whether other murals could be painted in the downtown.