Art Squad organizing effort to fight blight with art

The Bristol Art Squad burst onto the scene with the Operation Storefront Art project. The Art Squad has announced its next official project — teaming up with the City of Bristol to fight blight with art.

“The City reached out to us and wondered if we were interested in using art to fight blight by transforming boarded up buildings into works of art and we said ‘heck yeah we are,’” said Squad Captain Ginger Grant according to a press release from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. “We have several projects lined up but this was too good to pass up.”

The idea was first proposed to the Art Squad by Councilwoman Ellen Zoppo, who is also the chair of the Code Enforcement Committeeee, with the desire to transform condemned buildings “into symbols of inspiration and opportunity,” said the release.

“Part of our process with blighted buildings that are being condemned is to board them up with plywood,” Zoppo said according to the chamber’s news release. “However, with that comes a negative look and feel and it’s a detriment to the neighborhoods when perhaps it doesn’t have to be. With the Art Squad’s help we felt there was an opportunity to perhaps to flip the vision to a positive one.”

On Sunday, May 17, in conjunction with the West End Association Clean-Up Day, the Bristol Art Squad will hold a community wide event titled the “All Heart Art to Fight Blight Day”, where the city will provide a minimum 20 plywood boards, where members of the Art Squad community and community at large can participate.

“The arts have the power to transform,” squad member Lindsay Vigue said, according to the press release. “It can take a building that has fallen on hard times and immediately cheer it up, opening the chance for  someone to be inspired to carry out a vision befitting of the neighborhood and great city.”

The May 17 “All Heart Art to Fight Blight Day” kicks off at 8 a.m. at 179 West St. where boards will be distributed to interested painters, and the paint fest will continue until all the boards are done, or sundown. The event is rain or shine. In case of rain, painting will occur inside the 179 West St. storefront and the adjacent Storefront, if more space is needed.

Local artists and community members interested in participating in the painting are welcome and encouraged to come early. All boards will be primed in advance, and paints, brushes, tarps, and water buckets will be supplied. Those interested in painting a board please contact to reserve a board. Boards will also be provided on a first-come first-serve basis, if available.

“There’s a ton of artists excited and ready to paint away, but we’re going to have a lot of boards so we want to invite the entire community to take part in splashing their positive energy into this project and making a difference,” Grant said in the press release. “Come one, come all.”all heart logo