SPRINGFIELD — The city of Springfield has made its first investment in public art in years by allocating Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds — announced in the summer of 2016, and arriving this September. Two awards were made to local artists, one commissioning a sculpture and one commissioning a mural. The first is being delivered downtown today.
James Kitchen, previously known for his works throughout downtown including The Universe, will be delivering yet another interesting and unique sculpture for visitors, residents, and employees of downtown to enjoy. It is a giant monkey wrench, created by welding together monkey wrenches collected by the artist, as a tip-of-the-hat to Solymon Merrick, inventor of the monkey wrench who lived at 83 Maple St. in Springfield. DevelopSpringfield recently rehabbed the home, now inhabiting it as their offices. The monkey wrench sculpture will be delivered to the MassMutual Center main plaza today via crane, and will stay on display for the forseeable future. The city and the selection committee, including representation from the Cultural District and Transformative Development Initiative, hope that this piece will inspire those who walk by to remember Springfield is a hub of innovation not only in the past, but present as well.
Kitchen’s work will be unveiled alongside the second public art piece — a mural on the side of Gifford Locksmith on Lyman Street inspired by Milton Bradley. A ribbon-cutting celebration will be held in early October to showcase both investments in public art to create a more walkable and livable downtown. The city hopes to have similar success with its upcoming South End mural project, announced in August 2017.
The cultural district’s mission is to foster civic engagement and arts education in Springfield by creating and sustaining a vibrant cultural environment that positions the city as the cultural capital of the region. For more information, visit SpringfieldCulture.Org.