Beloved state icon becomes a mural made for these dark and stormy times
Hartford Courant Editorial
November 13, 2012
This damp autumn has had one benefit — the right weather for a beautiful piece of public art, the Charter Oak mural in Hartford.
It's eerie how artist Adam Niklewicz sensed Connecticut was in for stormy times this fall and created the perfect image to lift hearts: The iconic oak, part of state lore, emerges from the brick wall of a former Pearl Street synagogue when it's wet.
It is a soul-swelling sight, the beautiful old tree bent and buffeted by great storms of history, glistening on a soggy evening.
The 30- by 45-foot artwork, which looks faded when dry, emerges from under its Rust-Oleum coating when wet. So lawn sprinklers above and below it go off every afternoon to water the tree.
The Charter Oak mural replicates the famous 1857 painting in the Wadsworth Atheneum collection in Hartford. In state lore, a cavity in the tree hid Connecticut's royal charter from an attempt to take it away in 1687. The prized charter proclaimed the colony an independent government.
What a wonderful use of state iconography by a remarkable international talent — a Polish emigre who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and understands the importance of self-governance.
The mural project is a collaboration of Real Art Ways, the city of Hartford and the Wadsworth Atheneum, with help from the Greater Hartford Arts Council, among others. It's uplifting in these sodden times, a hope stimulus, as the best public art is. To see it, go to http://www.thewadsworth.org/capital-city-canvas.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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