Teens use art to spruce up empty storefronts

New London

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)–With a number of empty storefronts, downtown New London isn’t always picture perfect.

“When I’m walking around and it’s empty like this it looks pretty boring and sad and lonely,” said 15 year old Cristina Varela of New London. 

She is among a dozen or so teens from New London Youth Affairs hoping to change that.

Behind huge stickers promoting economic development are empty storefronts. Some in need of quite a bit of TLC.

At the Barrows Building the stickers were pulled off and windows were cleaned. The teens also swept up years of debris.

After cleaning up the space comes the time to beautify it and they are doing that with a work of art.

Art they created with guidance from art educator Aly Maderson Quinlog.

“There’s a poster that’s going to be a poem on one side and then another poster that’s going to explain the project and have everybody’s name,” said Quinlog as she told the teens where the mural will be located in the display.

“I actually took more pictures than painting because I like photography and we took pictures around New London,” said Varela.

Two years ago New London Main Street started with lights which continue to be paid for by a grant but realized the storefronts needed something more to keep people interested. So with two more grants they are now adding art to the displays.

“Make it look and feel more welcoming and that’s going to encourage people to kind of keep walking through our city streets and keep experiencing downtown New London,” said Kristin Havrilla Clarke.

The goal is to bring new life to the storefronts until more businesses fill the empty spaces. In the meantime more artists are needed to continue this work.

“To me it already looks cool,” said Varela. “So yeah it’s pretty cool.”

Sprucing up downtown New London one empty storefront at a time.

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