by Antoinette Martin
for Montclair Local
Attention, artists. This could be your big — as in, really, really big — chance.
Downtown Montclair got a new mural on the side of a Bloomfield Avenue paint store this week, and this launched a program to put as many as 10 original designs up at various downtown locations over the next two years.
At the mural unveiling Tuesday, July 11, The Montclair Center Business Improvement District issued an open call for artworks that reflect “the rich heritage, culture and vibrancy of Montclair — from yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
Details are posted at MontclairCenter.com. The next mural will go up sometime this fall; the early deadline for proposals is Sept. 5, and final proposals are due Oct. 2.
“This is a great opportunity for artists, schools and organizations to get their creativity working and out and about in downtown Montclair,” said Israel Cronk, executive director of Montclair Center BID.
The cheerful mural of yellow tulips created on the side of Red Star Paint, 420 Bloomfield Ave., commemorates May in Montclair, a program that plants 20,000 tulips every year and celebrates May special events in a booklet. The program was founded in 1979 by Betty Dallery, who died in 2013 at age 106. The mural also celebrates the legacy of Jean Kidd, a legendary Garden Club volunteer and supporter of May in Montclair, who died two years ago at age 82.
The mural was commissioned by the BID and reproduced on the wall by a professional outdoor muralist, R.C. Mooney. The muralist will do the same with each of five to 10 winning designs, depending on the availability of suitable spaces downtown. Each winning artist will be credited with a plaque on the mural, a website listing, publicity and a public unveiling.
At the ceremony Tuesday, Mayor Robert Jackson called the tulip mural “beautiful and artsy” and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Renée Baskerville said she was thrilled to see an effort to get more public art displayed in the community.
A guitar/ clarinet duo provided tunes, and local artist/model Christina Davenport flitted about in a garland headdress and butterfly wings.
“It feels like such a Montclair Moment,” said Montclair Center board member Robert Weber, one of the speakers at the brief affair.
“I think that when you walk by these tulips, you can’t help but smile,” he said. “We hope to create a lot more, because art is something that resonates with all of us in this community.”