Hartford streets are getting a bit of love!
Local artists are now displaying their pieces along Albany Avenue through the hARTford Love Initiative.
The pilot program is part of larger efforts to celebrate diversity around the city. It aims to highlight local talent and brighten neighborhoods.
More than two dozen pops of color are going up on bus shelters and electrical boxes throughout the Upper Albany and Clay Arsenal neighborhoods. Each of the artists selected for the project have special connections to the communities where their work is being displayed.
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The original art features Hartford landmarks, nods to Puerto Rican culture, images of love and notes of positivity.
“Be the rose that grew from concrete,” is a phrase featured on one display designed by Hartford artist Andriena Baldwin.
“Just to be able to get a good message out there and to let people know that your talents can be used, and not to be afraid to tap into them, is just a great feeling,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin is one of 30 artists selected to create a design through the hARTford Love Initiative.
“I’m just happy to be a part of it,” she said. “To give us the opportunity not just to put it up on display, but for so many other people to see it and for our fellow Harford residents to be able to see it and support us is, it's great.”
Her work promotes positivity.
“It says take what you need: love, hugs, support, motivation,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin drew inspiration from anime, thanks to a suggestion from her kids.
“Some sort of resemblance to anime, but be more familiar with the people in our neighborhood, who live here, who walk past the bus stop,” she said.
The artists picked for this paid opportunity to display their work range in age from eight to mid-70s. They were selected by neighborhood organizations dedicated to revitalization, based on their experience as an artist, talent and personal connections to the Upper Albany and Clay Arsenal neighborhoods.
“The idea is that the artwork is created to celebrate the neighborhood,” Andre Rochester, hARTford Love Initiative project lead, said. “We're fortunate enough to have artists who have grown up in this neighborhood actually contribute to this project.”
Rochester said in the next two weeks, all of the pieces will be installed on nine bus shelters and 21 electrical boxes along Albany Avenue.
“This being one of our most important commercial corridors in the city, it's important that we celebrate it, we decorate it, and we include the people who are from here," Rochester said.
Baldwin’s work reflects her lifelong connection to Hartford.
“This is home to me, I barely know anything else,” she said. “I live here. I work here, I go to church here. So this is me.”
She’s grateful for the opportunity to shine in her own backyard.
“There are so many wonderful artists in the area who, probably are like me, and don’t get a chance to display their talents,” Baldwin said.
She hopes her work fuels inspiration for her neighbors.
“I wanted it to be encouraging,” she said. “I wanted it to be a message that would say to the kids that walk by, the teenagers that walk by, that you don't have to be a victim of your circumstance. Know that people are there to love you. And know that you're worth more and you can thrive and be successful.”
If you want to learn more about the artists involved in the project, visit HartfordCT.gov/artproject.