New Castle Weighs Beautifying Downtown Chappaqua With Street Art

Some of the public murals that were painted in New Rochelle by artists who were procured by Street Art for Mankind, an international nonprofit that beautifies communities with work that has social justice themes.

New Castle officials are considering contracting with a global nonprofit organization to bring in artists from around the world to paint street art with social justice themes in downtown Chappaqua.

Street Art for Mankind has attracted artists to paint public murals on walls and sides of buildings in small and large communities throughout North America and Europe, including New Rochelle and Larchmont in Westchester. The works center on one or two themes that are selected by the community and are consistent with its values and DNA, said Street Art for Mankind co-founder Audrey Decker.

“People don’t have to go inside the museum,” Decker said. “We bring the inspiration of art to them outside.”

Broad themes that could be addressed in the series of coordinated murals are climate change, green energies, clean and sustainable transportation and protecting the oceans, among many other possibilities. She said that in New Rochelle, for example, the art centered on diversity, sustainability and equality.

The art would serve multiple purposes, not only to beautify downtown spaces and increase foot traffic, but also to inspire and educate members of the community on the themes that it focuses on, co-founder Thibault Decker said.

Works are also tailored to fit the character and size of the community.

“The idea is to work with you guys to create, in a sense, what values you want to talk about and what is inspiring,” he told the Town Board last week.

Typically, the art walks have six to 10 murals, the Deckers said. In a recent visit to Chappaqua, they identified 31 walls that could potentially serve as a canvas.

Permission will be needed from the property owner or entity who owns a building in order for any work to be done.

“We have a lot of developers who really like to paint their walls because it does appreciate,” Thibault Decker said.

Supervisor-elect Lisa Katz said some people downtown that she’s been in contact with like the concept of a mural.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of the private owners already and many of them are actually excited to do something like this,” Katz said. 

The price for each mural is $20,000 and includes materials, transportation and lodging for the artist while they are in the area, Thibault Decker said. If budgets, themes, walls and artists are confirmed by the end of the year, then the artists can be booked because the spring and summer are busy for street artists. That can be followed by the validation of sketches over the winter and for the artists to work in May, he said.

Acting Supervisor Jeremy Saland credited Town Administrator Jill Shapiro for suggesting that Street Art for Mankind could be a fit for New Castle. He said addressing social issues is something that’s important to the town but there are other advantages for the community that they could get behind.

“But (it) also puts feet on the ground because they make it a destination and an interesting location where people can come and see things, not just a boring and mundane gray that we see in many places,” Saland said.

Shapiro said she would follow up by speaking to officials in several other communities that have had the artwork done to see if there are opportunities for outside funding or grants to help defray some of the costs.

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