Colorful boost

Rochester art project turns boarded-up windows and alleyways into community art

October 18. 2017 1:02PM
James Chase, director of community education and visual arts faculty at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, spent the summer working on murals that will brighten up spots around Rochester. 

ROCHESTER — Boarded windows and alley separators in Rochester’s historic district will get a colorful boost from New Hampshire artist James Chase this month.

The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts commissioned Chase, director of community education and the visual arts faculty at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, to create and install public art in Factory Court, North Main Street and Wyandotte Walkway.

The project, which was supported by the Office of Economic and Community Development of the City of Rochester, is scheduled to be completed and installed by Sunday.

But unlike community projects with a short shelf life, Matt Wyatt, a co-founder and chairman of the Rochester Museum, said the public will have plenty of time to see the murals.

“We love public art, but the problem with most of it is that you raise a lot of money and they are typically taken away after a few months,” Wyatt said. “We wanted to raise money and invest in something that would last for a few years or more. James is using marine grade plywood and applying them to the boarded window spaces. They are made to last.”

Chase has exhibited his work internationally, merging painting, printmaking and photography with social engagement efforts; he has been featured in more than 50 art exhibitions since 2009. Recent solo exhibitions include “Echoes” with the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts and “Kill The Lights” at South Plains College, Levelland, Texas.

“It says a lot when local organizations and municipalities invest in the arts,” Chase said of the Rochester mural commission. “This project will hopefully further the appreciation for public art and help beautify the downtown.

“The opportunity to interact and give back to the community through the power of art is important to me,” he added. “ I truly believe art builds community.”

Chase recently completed a large-scale mural project in Manchester, and he worked throughout this past summer on pieces for this fall’s installation in Rochester.

“My aim with the mural project in Rochester is to enhance a visual sense of vibrancy that is already growing in the downtown area,” he said. “With businesses and organizations like the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts, Rochester Opera House, Revolution, and Fresh Vibes all making substantial investments in the downtown area, these murals will hopefully become another piece of the conversation.”

There will be a small, outdoor reception in Wyndotte Walkway from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27. Visit for more information.

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