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Fresh Paint Mural Festival Returning to Springfield September 10-18 with 9 Murals; Restoring AfriCOBRA Cultural Legacy Murals to Springfield

Murals to be painted in Mason Square, the North End and the South End of Springfield

Springfield—Fresh Paint Springfield, the mural festival that began in 2019 in Downtown Springfield and transformed large exterior walls into art, will return in 2022 from September 10-18, with nine new murals in Mason Square, the North End and the South End of Springfield. This year’s Festival will also re-create two murals painted by the late Nelson Stevens, AfriCOBRA member, who directed the painting of over 30 murals in the city in the 1970s.

The 2022 mural festival will expand its economic and geographic impact and engage hundreds of residents in the creation of nine new public murals and art installations in Metro Center, the North End, and Mason Square. Muralists will be working daily from September 10 to September 18.

The 2022 festival will also honor the late Nelson Stevens, who in the early 1970s directed the painting of more than 30 AfriCOBRA murals in the city of Springfield. As a fitting tribute to Stevens, who passed away just recently in July 2022, Fresh Paint Springfield will recreate two of his murals, one that honors Black women and the other a celebration of Black music. These murals will be recreated by the Community Mural Institute. A Commemoration and Mural Ribbon Cutting for the Stevens murals will be held on Saturday, September 24 from 1-3 p.m., starting at 1 Montrose Street and ending at 38 Catherine Street.

The Community Mural Institute will train 12 local artists in state-of-the-art techniques in creating community-engaged murals. Using those techniques, hundreds of people will be able to help paint these murals at community paint parties. The Community Mural Institute participants will lead the repainting of Nelson Stevens’ murals. Greta McLain of GoodSpace Murals and Britt Ruhe of Common Wealth Murals are the co-facilitators of the Institute.

New this year, Fresh Paint will host an Artist Talk on Tuesday, Sept 13, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. followed by a reception to meet the artists at Gasoline Alley, 250 Albany Street.  The public will be able to hear from a panel of international professional muralists about their work and careers, learn how they got to where they are, and ask questions. The event is free and open to the public.

Common Wealth Murals, organizer of Fresh Paint Springfield, carefully curates and invites professional muralists to be part of the festival. Muralists are selected based on their orientation toward the communities in which their art will live, the quality of their work and their experience painting large-scale murals in short timeframes.

Muralists are as follows:

  • Betsy Casañas from Philadelphia and Puerto Rico, who has previously participated in Fresh Paint Springfield, has been collaborating with the Live Well Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Blues to Green on her mural concept. Casañas’ mural will reflect environmental justice and music. @bzcasanas
  • Alejandro Rodriguez, who is from Puerto Rico, celebrates the Puerto Rican people, artists, and culture in his murals. @akalejandroart
  • Colectivo Morivivi, who has also previously participated in Fresh Paint, is an all-women artistic collective from Puerto Rico. Their mural will build off of the themes and imagery developed by the Gerena Elementary School community in conjunction with the Springfield Public Schools-sponsored mural on the Main Street entrance to Gerena. @colectivo_morivivi
  • MuralesLian, who is originally from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, has been living in Spain for more than 20 years and will be painting a mural for the New North Citizens Council Youth Build Program with the theme of resilience, personal responsibility and community leading to a better future. @muraleslian
  • Justin Suarez from Rochester, New York is an aerosol photorealist muralist whose artwork focuses on love of wildlife and youth empowerment. @aerosolkingdom
  • Kristy McCarthy and Vince Ballentine, from Brooklyn, New York, will be painting a mural whose theme was developed in collaboration with Springfield Partners for Community Action stakeholders. @dgaleart & @vballentine99
  • Repainting of Nelson Stevens’ “Wall of Black Music” on Montrose and State Streets, by the Community Mural Institute.
  • Repainting of Nelson Stevens’ “I am a Black Woman” on Catherine and State Streets, by the Community Mural Institute.
  • Pablo Kalaka, who is Chelean by birth and Venezuelan by upbringing, will paint a mural celebrating Latino families. @pablokalaka

For announcements of mural locations and other updates, please visit Information about becoming a festival sponsor can also be found on the website.

Community paint parties will be held at the Mason Square Library on Saturday, September 10 from 3 – 5 p.m. at 765 State Street, and on Sunday September 11 from 12 – 2 p.m. at Gerena Elementary School, 200 Birnie Avenue.

In 2019 and 2021, the Fresh Paint Springfield mural festival created 20 large-scale murals in the downtown and Mason Square neighborhoods of Springfield. At community paint parties, over 1,000 people worked alongside professional muralists from across the US to help paint the murals, and 10 local artists were trained in the process for making murals which allows for that level of community engagement.

An independent evaluation of Fresh Paint Springfield 2019 found that the murals and associated events stimulated new investment in the Springfield economy, increased walkability and pedestrian traffic, and improved perceptions of Springfield. The study found that the estimated boost to the Springfield economy was 4 times what was donated from local sources, and 4 out of 5 businesses located in sight of one of the murals noticed an increase in foot traffic during the festival.