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Massive mural cited as New England's tallest unveiled in downtown Hartford

Muralist Michael Rice thanks Sam (second from right), the ten year old boy who modeled for the mural, saying "I think Sam is going to bring a lot of hope to the city of Hartford."
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Muralist Michael Rice thanks Sam (second from right), the ten year old boy who modeled for the mural, saying "I think Sam is going to bring a lot of hope to the city of Hartford."

The small plaza across from Dunkin' Park on Main Street was buzzing Thursday afternoon with artists, members of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, as well as Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal. Behind them, serving as a backdrop, was a 170-foot mural that greets commuters as they travel on I-84 in downtown Hartford.

Artists started work on the giant mural in the spring, often working on scaffolding several hours a day. The mural depicts a boy peering into a jar as he releases fireflies.

At the unveiling, lead artist Michael Rice thanked Sam, the East Hartford boy who served as the model for the mural.

Hartford's Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp kicked off the celebration to unveil New England's tallest mural in Hartford.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Hartford's Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp kicked off the celebration to unveil New England's tallest mural in Hartford. The tallest mural in New England is completed and unveiled in Hartford with fanfare from artists, officials, Hartford's Proud Drill Drum and Dance Corp, and the mural's subject Samuel.

“I knew it the moment I saw him,” said Rice. “He has this twinkle in his eye and this specialness about him, and I hope that everyone is going to be able to see this now as well. I think Sam is going to bring a lot of hope to the city of Hartford.”

Sam, who was at the unveiling, smiled nervously as the crowd applauded.
The 16-story mural is the tallest in New England, according to the public arts organization RiseUp, who facilitated its creation. RiseUp executive director Matt Conway said public art like the new mural is transforming Hartford.

“It’s creating an environment,” Conway said. “It’s creating a place to be, a place to live, a place to explore. And we’re really excited to not just make murals, but make murals that matter.”

The mural project was funded through a host of public and private sources. Conway says his group has plans for more murals in the future.

Ten year old Sam looks up at the completed mural he modeled for.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
Ten year old Sam looks up at the completed mural he modeled for.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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