Glastonbury looking to add MLK mural as part of MLK39 initiative – Hartford Courant

The town of Glastonbury is likely to host a new mural of Martin Luther King Jr. as part of the MLK39: Racial Equality Tour Initiative through the non-profit arts collaboration RiseUP for Arts.

The initiative, which began in 2021, partners with 39 Connecticut communities to create 39 murals — one for each year of Martin Luther King Jr’s life.

So far, 15 murals have been created in communities across the state, including Danbury, Torrington, Southington, Manchester, West Hartford and Hartford, with several more murals in development.

“This project is about bringing the community together,” said Matt Conway, Founder and Executive Director of RiseUP for Arts. “Each mural will depict the messages, images and symbols that Martin Luther King Jr. stood for.”

Conway said the group was looking to bring a mural to Glastonbury to celebrate its diversity and empower the community with public art. The murals depict various historical figures involved in racial justice or who have had a lasting impact.

“Racial equity is a matter of fairness for all. Our murals represent all races, not just one race,” Conway said. “I think there is a misconception about this project. We really try to bring the community together and show where we can go as a community.

Micaela Levesque, an East Hartford artist with RiseUp, spoke at last week’s city council meeting about the impact of the project.

“It’s a great honor to represent diversity,” said Lévesque. “It’s very much a community project, from everything from selecting who is depicted on the mural to what it represents.”

Levesque created the popular Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural on I-91 in Hartford and more recently the mural in Bristol located on the Primo Press building near Riverside Ave.

“The cost of the project depends on the size, but most of these murals are around $15,000,” Conway said. Conway mentioned that other cities, including West Hartford, have unveiled larger murals that cost more. The total cost of the West Hartford mural in Blueback Square was $25,000.

“But it’s important to note that it doesn’t cost the city a penny,” Conway said. “Not even the interview.”

The project is funded by a subcommittee of private community members and relies heavily on donations for funding.

“We will collect the money ourselves. If we can raise $7,500, there will be another nonprofit to match that,” said Glastonbury MLK Community Initiative chair Leslie Ohta. “That should be a big factor for the city.”

Ohta, a former attorney, said she read RiseUp’s contract with the city and said “it’s clear the city has no responsibility” for the mural.

Conway said the nonprofit takes full responsibility for the mural for five years and after that the city can either take over the upkeep of the mural or choose to whitewash it. .

The group plans to create the mural on state property, which requires city council and state approval. Conway said the group had restricted a location on the New London Turnpike under an overpass near Monaco Ford and CVS Pharmacy.

Council member John Cavanna asked why the group were only looking at the freeway underpasses and “it’s dark under them and my concern is people stopping to take a better look which could lead to ‘possible accidents’.

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Ohta said there really aren’t any buildings in town that could accommodate a mural and unlike cities like Hartford “we don’t have big, tall buildings that are ideal for a mural.”

Council Member Kurt Cavanaugh asked why “I see Barack Obama…but I don’t see people like Condoleezza Rice, Judge Thomas or Colin Powell. Why do you think that is?

Conway said the organization does not pick the numbers depicted, but rather it comes from a community survey.

“That’s really what the community wants to see on the mural,” Conway said. “If you look at the West Hartford mural, it has a white Irish Catholic on it, a Hispanic woman, a black woman, and a Native American. It’s not just about a race and we want to talk about the real history of Glastonbury.

Council members Mary LaChance and Deborah Carroll both said they were “excited to continue the conversation about this.”

Chairman Thomas Gullotta said there “are many interesting possibilities” citing the town’s history with the Underground Railroad and that he would like the group to contact the Glastonbury Historical Society, the Glastonbury Art Guild and the commission human relations to collect their comments before the board. makes a decision.

Stephen Underwood can be contacted at [email protected]

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