• Juhi Dasrath

Building to Boardgame in downtown Springfield

By: Juhi A. Dasrath

SPRINGFIELD- A neighborhood revitalization effort sparked conversation in downtown Springfield. Perhaps you’ve seen the changes. Paintings, on the sides of a few dilapidated buildings. Springfield residents are asking, who painted them and why are they there?

It began in the summer of 2015 when local artist, John Simpson painted a larger than life mural from a scene in the Wizard of Oz.

Springfield- Artist John Simpson has completed his mural on State Street in downtown Springfield.(ELIZABETH ROMAN/ THE REPUBLICAN)

“And there’s no place like Springfield and we didn’t put it on here, but Springfield being the City of Homes, we thought it would be appropriate,” Simpson told WWLP.

Since then, several more art murals popped up in downtown. Some are inspired by Springfield history while others express artists’ abstract thoughts and feelings.

Geraldine McCafferty, the city's director of housing, said the project is the culmination of a community initiative to increase civic participation and public safety in Springfield.

“I’ve lived in Springfield all my life. People hear bad things but don’t live here so they just think what they’re told to think. But efforts like these murals tap into Springfield’s potential” said Springfield resident Isaac Delaney.

The funding for these murals come partially from grants and partially from the Springfield Central Cultural District (SCCD).

Inspired by milton Bradley Boardgames, artist Kim Carlino painted this mural on the side of the A.W. Locksmith's building acorss from Union Station in Springfield. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

To engage the community and highlight the city’s talent SCCD called upon local artist of all ages to join in extending a piece of their personality to the decrepit walls of old buildings.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the city’s art help troubled youth turn their lives around, giving them a hand at creating art.

"We are celebrating the rebirth of not only our future of coming together as one, but just as important respecting the past of our beloved neighborhood," Sarno told MassLive.

With MGM Springfield moving into downtown the future of some of the artwork is uncertain. They could go up for auction but continue serving its purpose bringing a sense of community and culture to Springfield.