On July 23, 2020, Mayor Harry Rilling, the Norwalk Arts Commission, Norwalk Department of Public Works, and local artists officially unveiled newly painted murals along Washington Street. In May, the city installed concrete barriers on the south side of Washington Street to allow for expanded outdoor dining space. The Norwalk Arts Commission worked with local artists who painted murals on tarps, which were then installed on the barriers by the Department of Public Works. The outdoor gallery called “Renewal” was curated by Arts Commission member Bob Abriola.
“The public and business response to the barriers on Washington Street has been positive. I appreciate the hard work and effort of the Arts Commission and local art community for producing this one-of-a-kind outdoor gallery,” said Mayor Rilling. “Norwalk is full of talent and inspiration, and I am so pleased to see that come to life in SoNo.”
The barriers run the length of the south side of Washington Street, and in total, 22 murals were installed. The tarps are painted in a way that allows the artwork to be visible on both sides of the barriers. The city purchased the tarps, and Jerry’s Artarama offered highly discounted supplies to the artists. Abriola reached out to his local contacts and connections in the art world to curate the outdoor gallery in the theme of “Renewal.” Each mural incorporates a vine that spans across all 22 murals which connects each mural into the one cohesive theme. The following artists contributed to the project, with social media handles in parenthesis:
5iveFingaz; Robert Abriola; Leslie Cober; Kevin Costa; Gayle Glecker; Amir Hines (@Kindomamir); Bruce Horan; Jackon (@werpeps); Jahmane (@artofjhamane); Danielle Julius; Brian Kaspr (@bkaspr); Steve Magee; Tony Mobilia; Weverson Ponte; Frank Post; Creative Raven; Dorothy Robertshaw; Kris Schnitzler; Stephanie / Brian; Jim Velgot; Wing Wong; & Yedifresh (@yedifresh).
“The effort and talent of these artists brought a vibrant and positive message to Washington Street in support of the reopening of businesses through these challenging times. “Renewal” is our message to show we are here in strength to contribute and support this great city,” Abriola said.
Installing the barriers doubled the space restaurants had to safely conduct outdoor dining within the State of Connecticut reopening guidelines. Businesses have been able to use the entire sidewalk for outdoor dining or retail. A walkway was created between the sidewalk and concrete barriers, allowing pedestrians to safely navigate Washington Street while enjoying the artwork.
“As a Norwalker born and raised, I am proud of our city for its outstanding efforts on Washington Street, as well as throughout Norwalk that is helping keep our local businesses running through these trying times, and keeping everyone safe at the same time. I’m sure I speak for many who are proud to say we are Norwalk strong,” said Mike Monroe, owner of Saltwater Restaurant & Bar located at 128 Washington Street.
Adam Greenbaum, Principal, AGW Partners, added: “It was amazing to see the City of Norwalk accommodate extra seating and safe activity on Washington Street. The collaboration with local artists on Washington added an aesthetic to the streetscape consistent with SoNo’s urban culture.”
The gallery will remain up through the fall while the barriers remain in place. Artists will be monitoring their murals and touch-up their artwork as-needed to ensure it remains fresh and vibrant throughout the coming months.