At first, it was just an 8-by-35-foot History of Montclair mural on one side of the wall in the walkway between the Bamboo Asian Bistro and the Montclair Char Broil Diner on Valley Road in Montclair. Now, more murals--albeit smaller ones--adorn the wall across from the larger one.
This project grew out of a collaboration between Montclair State University and the Montclair Arts Council to develop a mural for the township. The larger acrylic-on-canvas mural is a visual sampling of some of Montclair’s historical events and figures, including conflicts between the Lenni Lenape Indians with the European settlers; Israel “King” Crane, the merchant credited with the development of the area; and the impact of renowned landscape artist George Inness, who was from the Hudson River School. It was officially dedicated on Sept. 25 and marked the township’s seventh piece of public art.
It was at the dedication ceremony for the History of Montclair mural that the idea for more murals developed.
“At the dedication ceremony for the initially installed mural, we noticed that the wall across from it contained five bricked-up former windows,” recalled Linda Davidson, assistant dean of the College of the Arts. “We thought how interesting it might be to place art in those spaces and be able to claim the whole walkway area to feature art made by University students. That was the inspiration.”
Prof. Julie Heffernan, associate professor of art and design who directed students in the earlier mural project, worked with her students again to come up with ideas and created works for the opposite-wall spaces.
“The theme that binds the five works together is that each is based on a ‘Wordplay,’ ” adds Davidson.
The outdoor murals are the result of a collaborative project involving not only Montclair State University and the Montclair Arts Council, but also various other entities and individuals, including the Montclair Parking Authority, and the Upper Montclair Business District. All the murals were created by students in Montclair State’s Art and Design department – the latter of which were presented as a “gift”, with no costs to the Township or shop owners.