‘Heroes’ mural coming to life

ArtWorks Westfield volunteers are creating a mural titled “Heroes are Everywhere” in the tunnel between Taylor and Hedges streets. (ARTWORKS PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – A group of dedicated artists continue to beautify the city by painting a mural along the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail.

The mural, tiled “Heroes are Everywhere,” is a project of ArtWorks Westfield and features florals and scenes of people. The mural is located in the tunnel between Taylor and Hedges streets.

Artist Shannon Chiba, an ArtWorks Westfield board member, said a group of volunteers have worked several Saturdays – wearing masks – and are making good progress.

“The mural is on track and on pace,” said Chiba. “We had so much participation, donations and love that it warms our hearts. The community should be so, so proud of the unity and support that they have shown to each other.”

ArtWorks Board member Bill Westerlind said it has brought the community together.

“The artists, community and business supporters that came to together to turn this concept into reality has been wondrous. The experience so far has been truly amazing,” said Westerlind.

A GoFundMe page was created in early June for donors to contribute to a fund for supplies. In addition, ArtWorks received donations from local business.

Artists work inside the tunnel under the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail to create a mural. (ARTWORKS PHOTO)

“From donations from the Lumber Center, Rocky’s Ace Hardware and Home Depot in Westfield to the private donations of paint, money and materials, we are in terrific shape to complete this mural,” Chiba said. “The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Westfield Cultural Council have also pledged support in the form of grants. All that is needed is for the artists to get to work and to continue to make magic happen!”

Chiba said anyone can be an artist and contribute to the mural, which will be sealed once complete, and then celebrated.

“ArtWorks plans on having a block party for the neighborhood that surrounds the mural. How much fun does that sound?” said Chiba. “We will unveil the mural, albeit socially distanced, and we will have a few speeches prepared with words of thanks and how we wish to move forward with art in the city.”

The mural organizers hope this sparks more creativity throughout the city.

“We hope this mural is one of many that will be created in the same vein,” said Chiba, adding that “our fundraising continues, as each donation will go toward future mural creations in the city.”

The mural project has become widely known and WGBY and PBS will be featuring the ArtWorks’ mural in an upcoming segment.

Chiba said passersby have commented to the artists as they are working.

“Folks walk and ride by as we paint, and their words of praise and encouragement are greatly uplifting,” she said. “People love seeing the color, and the impact the mural is having is already being felt. Neighbors have offered a ladder, a parking space, a water spigot and cookies! All are appreciated, needed, and show how art impacts the city. People are invested in this mural. We truly are coming together to make beauty.”

Artists will continue working on the mural Saturdays until it is complete.

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