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Murals With a Message: East Hartford Artists Contribute to Their Community

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

RiseUP for Arts, Connecticut’s only state-wide non-profit dedicated to creating public art, launched East Hartford Murals as a local partnership with the town of East Hartford to create several additional public art projects painted across town.

Since 2021, RiseUP for Arts and East Hartford Murals has commissioned local artists to paint memorable mural displays. The public artwork painted on the side of buildings, street walks, bus stops, and beyond takes accessible outdoor canvases and transforms them into tangible representations of hope, opportunity, and homegrown talent.

So far, the works include five motifs of East Hartford’s history, family appreciation, racial equity, and brush strokes with bold colors in full bloom.

Once revealed, the murals help breathe new life into local communities — reflecting its residents' cultures while expanding neighborhood tourism, advancing district economies, and improving life for local populations.

The Origin Story of East Hartford Street Art

The East Hartford Town Council and former Mayor Marcia Leclerc deserve a lot of credit for this,” Mayor Mike Walsh stated. “The funding of this artistic endeavor was made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act, which came about as a result of COVID. As a 32-year East Hartford resident, 25 years as the town’s finance director, and with a couple of girls that went through the East Hartford public school system, I am very pro-East Hartford. As Mayor, the plan is to focus on three components that can move us forward — development, infrastructure, and programs. The murals are a part of that development. We’re not going to do it all overnight, and it is a process, but we’ve identified the roadmap to realize the promise East Hartford really has.”

From Local Learner to Leaving a Lasting Impression

Spectators aren’t the only ones admiring the street art; East Hartford art graduates also recognize the professional significance of the town’s partnership with RiseUP.

A testament to their talent, East Hartford art graduates will have the potential to create large-scale public art pieces that magnify their message and showcase their communal spirit.

When East Hartford creatives return home after commencement, they’ll be welcomed back to a community that encourages them to show off their postsecondary experience and, through paint, make their mark on the world.

East Hartford Supports the Public Art Scene

—Passerbys and Painters—

While the public art pieces are in progress, the town’s residents provide continued praise to the local painters.

“In the two days Joey Batts and I were painting [the Family is Everything bus stop mural on Forbes Street], the neighbors in the community honked horns, shouted out praises, and were excited about our project,” Andrea Sanchez, East Hartford native and mural artist specified.

“Almost every car yelled out the window, ‘That looks great!’ and ‘Wow! Good job!’

“At that moment, it made me realize that this is needed more than anyone thought. We turned an everyday bus stop into a community center point of joy and created a daily reminder that not only is family everything, but so is community. As an East Hartford resident of over 20 years, it’s amazing to be a part of this project.”

—East Hartford Elected Officials—

When asked about the reactions the murals are making in the town, “The mural beneath the Founder’s Bridge is a walk through history and absolutely spectacular,” Mayor Mike Walsh complimented.

“There is an inherent beauty and happiness that comes from artistic expression, and to have local artists provide this magic is critical to our community,” Harry Amadasun, Jr., East Hartford native and Town Councilmember, added.

Hopes For Their Hometown

Together, young East Hartford leaders are working to provide a positive path forward for their hometown. “There is a sense of invigorating excitement around each mural reveal,” Councilmember Amadasun Jr. detailed. “Even from the murals created so far, I’ve seen the community reimagine what’s possible. I’ve watched as members from across town have gathered and embraced the mural’s messaging and even got out of their comfort zones to paint a little bit. The murals are a testament to our commitment to community, and I hope they bring us all closer together.”

Tiyah Thompson, East Hartford native, and self-taught mural artist, further encouraged, “I want residents to acknowledge — ‘local artists are contributing to our community, so what can I do? What is my role that can make a difference?’ I hope that the creation of these murals turns the wheels and sparks ideas of at least one way each person can make East Hartford a little better.”

“I grew up in East Hartford, so it feels good to give back,” East Hartford native and public art artist Michaela Levesque admitted. “I hope it makes the kids in the community realize that their town is pretty special. I hope it encourages them to value East Hartford a little more — both its history and its future.”

Would you like to give back by spraying some paint or sponsoring a meaningful mural?

Visit EH Murals to learn more!

What's up next?

  • Mural honoring East Hartford's legendary K-9 Unit

  • 4 More Pool House Murals

  • Street Murals

  • Murals at the schools

  • And more!

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