Main Street Waterbury
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Art and Empowerment
Paula LaBonte,
Development Director
Greater Waterbury YMCA

Greater Waterbury YMCA – This summer, the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be contributing to the City of Waterbury’s ongoing eff orts to create a more vibrant, lively, and connected downtown with the installation of two major placemaking art projects. “Art by the Green” is a community collaborative project that will engage local artists and volunteers in the creation of a series of murals to be installed across the face of the YMCA’s historic 1924 façade. The mosaic panels will be planned, designed, and fabricated through the collaborative eff orts of hundreds of local volunteers of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This innovative, interactive, and community-based arts initiative is made possible by grants from the Connecticut Offi ce of the Arts (COA), the Connecticut Community Foundation, and the Waterbury Public Arts Commission (WPAC).

The YMCA’s location adjacent to the downtown Green, Mattatuck Museum, and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Church will provide an immersive visual arts experience to a large and diverse population. But the partnership between the YMCA and the arts organizations funding the project is about much more than the prime downtown location of the mural. “This is not just art for art’s sake,” says Jim O’Rourke, CEO of the Greater Waterbury YMCA. “The benefits extend far beyond that. It’s about the process. It’s about collaboration and fostering a sense of place. It’s about leveraging the power of community to give the people who live and work here a sense of connectedness and a stake in the continued revitalization of the area.”

Placemaking projects like “Art by the Green” endeavor to strengthen the connection between people and the places they share, integrating arts and culture into the fabric of their city. The artists leading the project, Joanne and Bruce Hunter, are not new to placemaking or to Waterbury. They are responsible for the 2003 Star at Rotella School, and the 2012 Cool Waters on South Main Street. Their Eyes of the World, fabricated by Women’s Marchers last year, was recently installed in the Neuberger Museum on 42nd Street, NYC. The Hunters are an award-winning visual arts team, as well as teachers, advocates, and creators of public art who are widely known throughout the state.

Their efforts on the YMCA mosaic will engage hundreds of volunteers over a one-week period in late August of this year, and the dedication will coincide with the YMCA National Arts Week in early fall. The Mosaic Project Steering Committee will be responsible for creating a marketing and social media campaign plan, and project timeline. The committee will be identifying and recruiting volunteers of various ages including school groups, senior centers, community organizations, Y staff and members, corporate and city leaders, employees, and the general public. Groups or individuals interested in participating should contact YMCA Senior Director of Healthy Living, Angie Matthis at amatthis@waterburyymca.org.

This project will complement another placemaking art project at the YMCA. The WPAC recently selected the Y to be one of several locales for a free-standing sculpture created by visiting Italian artists this past fall who were producing a documentary, On the Trail of Calder. The fi ve metal sculptures were made in homage to Alexander Calder, “America’s most influential 20th century sculptor,” who created most of his pieces in Waterbury over the course of thirty years. The sculpture will be placed near the location of the mosaic panels in front of the YMCA this spring.

The Waterbury YMCA is proud to be a part of creating a vibrant arts corridor in downtown Waterbury. The collaborative nature of the project promotes greater interaction and helps foster healthier, more social communities—a goal that is squarely in line with their commitment to nurturing the spirits, minds, and bodies of Greater Waterbury.