The mural on the highway underpass in Meriden promotes beauty in bright colors

MERIDEN – The process of transforming a seedy highway underpass into a canvas of colorful art began on Sunday thanks to a team of volunteers at both the local and state levels.

The mural project is a partnership between the non-profit organization RiseUP for the Arts, local schools and arts organizations such as Gallery 53.

RiseUP was founded in 2012 as a youth development and mentoring program aimed at helping young people develop the skills needed to be the catalysts that inspire and uplift their community, according to its website. His CT Murals project aims to create socially conscious public art across the state.

Rose Devlin, head of digital communications at Meriden’s Gallery 53, described the Bunker Avenue underpass in Meriden as “dark and dreary”, but with the addition of a new inclusive color palette, “it will come to life with color. “he said.

The I-691 underpass was unofficially called the “Rainbow Underpass,” organizers said Sunday.

RiseUP, along with Gallery 53, a 114-year-old visual arts organization dedicated to making art part of the community, and high school students Maloney and Platt, provided volunteers on hand to paint on Sundays. Sustainable Meriden, a student-led program that engages the community to achieve Meriden’s sustainability goals, is another partner.

Julie Bergeron, RiseUp artist, was delighted to be part of the project.

“I’m part of RiseUp, which works on various murals throughout Connecticut,” he said.

A total of 100 volunteers had signed up to help with the mural painting, but not all of them made it on Sunday. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, but was postponed due to rain in the forecast.

“With the postponement from Saturday to today, there was probably a lot to do between Palm Sunday and the sports matches, as they are starting over,” Bergeron said.

Chris Gann, of CT Murals and RiseUp, thought this was a great project and believes it to be one of the largest murals in the state being worked on.

“We’re all about to spread some color as it’s always sunny in Meriden,” said Gann.

The mural’s design was based on Sustainable Meriden’s colorful block concept. It was designed to be a bright, colorful type of geometric pattern, which Devlin along with other Gallery 53 artists eventually came up with. It will continue to be painted through a series of community events.

“Matt Conway, who founded the nonprofit organization, was extraordinary. It was a pleasure to work with everyone, “said Devlin.” I am amazed at the amount of community volunteers and just the people in the community who have signed up and pledged to support the project. “

Before the project began, the people from CT Murals came sweeping the area and painted the top of the mural. The process began with a conversation with CT Murals in January. It met during Zoom meetings between organizations to carry out the project.

Since January the project was in the planning phase and on Sunday the planning finally came to life with the help of many volunteers who have dedicated their own hours to come together as a community. Members from Storrs came to participate in the painting.

“It’s great that the people in the community come forward and help us with this project, to make this area bright, instead of being dark and dreary,” said Manchester artist Jaii Marc Renee.

The Bunker Avenue underpass is a sort of gateway to the City and Brookside park districts. The mural will be unveiled in conjunction with the Daffodil Festival on April 30th.

Journalist Nicole Zappone can be contacted at

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