“I see so many empty canvases on walls” proclaims Ben Keller as he reminisces about his collaboration with Melica Bloom creating large murals in public spaces around Willimantic. For the past 10 months, the duo has been working with the town and area businesses to create an added sense of space in our city. In this time they have completed four very large works that are scattered throughout the downtown area and although the themes they chose have been varied, both Melica and Ben show considerable talent and thought in their public portfolio rendered upon a growing number of Willimantic’s exterior surfaces.
Ives Street – “A gift of color and light.”
Ben says the desire to create public art stems from the desire to see a space transformed, despite knowing the life of the work is terminal and that a piece of art is likely to get painted over, or changed by another person with a spray can. An image on the side of a building, train car or bridge painted illegally and without permission may have a life of only a few weeks. By cooperating with the town of Windham and with local residents, Ben and Melica have been able to create ambitious and sizable works that will last years and Ben has found a legal way to exercise his passion for changing public spaces.
Riverside Drive – “Guardian of the Yard”
Melica’s background in creating art has been remarkably short, starting just a few years ago when she met Ben. Both are mostly self taught and every large piece has been created with household cans of spray paint. They are now focused to paint anything, anywhere, as long as it’s legal and they have permission. They both are dedicated to supporting local businesses through their work and you can see their art throughout the interiors of Willimantic as well.
Mayo Street – The P & J Sprinkler Co.
Melica and Ben both have gained the courage through their experience to quit their day jobs and start their own mural business. They are currently working on a large commission in Middletown as well as some small projects for local businesses. They both have strong dedications to create personal work as well and have held shows around this state. Up until now, the majority of their effort has been pro bono and both Melica and Ben have been driven by their desire to add color and life to places that are often overlooked or forgotten. They have added a unique flare to Willimantic, a lasting accomplishment that will likely be appreciated for many years to come.
Saint Mary’s Playground looking back at Turner Street and Maple Street