'Greetings from Brattleboro' attracting tourists
BRATTLEBORO — Take a stroll around town and it is clear that art plays a major role in Brattleboro including public art found throughout. Artist Scot Borofsky has been involved with much of Brattleboro's outdoor art in places like Flat Street, at Dunklee's Machine Shop, behind Emerson's Furniture, and recently a mural at the new outdoor performance location for New England Youth Theatre. But a project he is really excited about is one that he is about to wrap up, the refurbishing of "Greetings from Brattleboro" mural in the Harmony Parking Lot, a collaboration with Jiyl Barrows Gilmour and the brainchild of the Brattleboro Arts Committee.
Fresh off the heels of the completion of his "Brattleboro Pattern Project," murals of colorful patterns and ancient symbols in the parking lot and loading dock of the former Cultural Intrigue building of Frost Street, he tackled "Greetings from Brattleboro."
Borofsky and Gilmour resurfaced the retaining wall that zig-zags around the west side of the parking lot, undaunted by setbacks as the wall on the street above in this hilly town went through reconstruction, setting off some rocks to fall, damaging the Harmony Lot wall below. With perseverance and the help of Glen Rosinski of Rosinski Masonry, and generous donations of paint from Sherwin Williams, today's mural greeting is reminiscent of a '50s-style postcard and is a popular attraction for townspeople and tourists alike as a perfect backdrop for selfies. Who doesn't want to be on a postcard?
Not a surprising accomplishment since Borofsky, along with Ken Hiratsuka — whose engravings in the sidewalk may be found on Elliot Street in front of Boomerang — were the first street artists in New York' East Village early in the '80s where, as Borofsky described, he did outdoor installations, completely illegally with spray paint, in a dangerous neighborhood. Borofsky specializes in patterns and cultural symbolism, influenced by his travels to Mexico's ancient ruins and sites, and his studies of pre-Columbian installations. Brattleboro Museum & Art Center exhibited Borofsky's and Hiratsuka's work in "Studio in the Street, Street in the Studio," that may still be viewed at streetstudioartcatalog.com, and at one point Borofsky had 58 patterns showing around town, although recently the Cultural Intrigue building purchased by Mocha Joe's was repainted covering most of Borofsky's work there. To see some of Borofsky's work he is curating for "Symbols, Totems, and Ciphers" at The Painting Center in New York City, due to open Nov. 29, visit thepaintingcenter.org/symbols-totems-ciphers.
Back in 2006, the Brattleboro Youth Services Agency's mural contest for the walls in Harmony Parking lot was won by Christ Grotke. It has been amusing parking lot attendees for a decade viewing bookshelves containing books with humorous book titles. In refurbishing the now faded and chipped mural, the Brattleboro Arts Committee and Borofsky wanted to reflect the diversity of artists in the area and the idea for the "Brattleboro Public Library of Artists' Web-Sites" was hatched.
After clearing confusion about Vermont's billboard law, Gilmour painted a wood-grain bookcase surrounded by Borofsky's pattern paintings and local artists were invited to pick a book and to paint a representation of their work, including their website or social media address, thus giving their art national exposure. It was delayed last July but is now back on track and Borofsky is hoping to have it finished by next year.
Borofsky said, "It' s exciting to me because it's never been done before. It is tempting to include only professional artists as originally done by Youth Services in the Book Mural, but anyone artist can do a book and put their web address on it for tourists to have access to view their work. People have warmed up to it, repeating it in other locations, including Puerto Rico."
And, he said, large grants aren't the only options to make something like this happen. "We've gotten personal contributions, raised $200 in a bucket in three-hour timeframe during a lousy-weathered Gallery Walk — it's amazing how much one- or two-dollar donations can add up," Borofsky said. "It showed me how much people want to be involved in a community effort. When they walk by the mural they can pat their pocket and know they were part of it ... I like that."
Cicely M. Eastman may be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 261
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