WESTFIELD, NJ — An otherwise dreary underpass dominated by concrete walls is being transformed with a set of expansive murals — the vision of local artist — made possible through grant funding.
Ricardo Roig, a Westfield native who has made a name for himself in the art world with his series of hand-cut prints, is working to complete the second mural under the overpass. It details key Westfield landmarks in abstract form.
“To have some visual art that everyone can see adds a little bit of enchantment into your everyday life,” said Roig, who recently took a break from the artwork to speak with this reporter. “It just lets people dream a little bit more.”
The mural — the counterpart to one he completed on the opposite wall of the underpass last year — shows Arcanum Hall, the James Ward Mansion, Westfield’s Addams Family house and a train rolling into the nearby NJ Transit station.
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The process, Roig said, includes cutting the prints with an x-acto knife, screen printing them, then sending them to a graphic designer who enlarges and pieces the prints together for a template that goes up on the wall.
But not all the artwork starts in miniature, he said. The Addams Family house and the train, Roig said, he is creating directly on the wall.
“These are going to be like whimsical pieces to the puzzle,” he said, pointing their blocks detailed on a scale diagram of the mural.
The ones that have be created in miniature, Roig said, he and his team put on the wall by cutting out shapes from the blown-up print and spray-painting in colors.
The murals are funded by a $20,000 transformation grant from the Main Street New Jersey Program, in addition to donations from the James Ward Mansion, Union County’s HEART programs and The Presbyterian Church of Westfield. Individual residents also provided monies through an online fundraiser established by the town for the purpose.
Helping Roig with the work are his wife, Michelle, who teaches at Tamaques School, Alexandra Urso, who teaches at McKinley School and Matthew Borcin, a Wilson School teacher.
While Roig lives in Hoboken, the former Westfield School District teacher’s ties to the town were apparent during the recent interview as some drivers passing by honked in support and a skateboarding teen called out, “Hey Ricky!”
“Through all that’s going on in these dark times, it’s nice to bring the light and the color to the community,” Roig said. “Because hope is all we have, and I find hope in art and seeking the next challenge.”
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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