Mural Unveiled In West Hartford

WEST HARTFORD — From a distance, the ornate stone wall is unremarkable.

But with each step closer an intricate series of painstaking brushstrokes is revealed, the result of four months' work by Hartford artist Tao LaBossiere.

LaBossiere, who worked with eight interns and assistants to create his latest mural at St. Mary Home, estimates that the expanse of 2,200 square feet of concrete took more than three million brushstrokes to cover. Rather than paint the bare concrete with a skyscape, for example, LaBossiere chose a design that reinvented the wall as a classical stonework that appears real thanks to a cunning use of dimension and perspective.

Titled, "Everlasting Spring in the Secret Garden," the mural is inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett's famous story and features images of a statue, flowers, fox, and other creatures.

St. Mary Home held an opening reception for the mural Thursday, which is located in a courtyard in the Mercy Community assisted living campus on Steele Road and is not open to the public. A video of the mural's creation will be available on the website, later this month, and a public reception is being planned for September.

Thursday's attendees included Cathy Malloy, CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council and First Lady, Mayor Scott Slifka, and William J. Fiocchetta, president and CEO of The Mercy Community.

"I'm very happy just to be in the community where it exists," Slifka said.

Fiocchetta lauded LaBossiere's work and thanked benefactors Frances B. Sergi and her family, and Barbara O. Hetrick, who enabled the mural's creation.

St. Mary Home instituted a comprehensive art therapy program last year for those suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia, and physical therapist Lisa Ciotto suggested a mural on the bare retaining wall in the courtyard would make a nicer environment for residents.

LaBossiere's design won out among artists' submissions and he began work on the mural in April.

With his business partner and wife Amy, LaBossiere, 45, owns Fine Art Painting, LLC and lives and works at ArtSpace Hartford, which includes a 3,500 square foot volunteer-run gallery. He created his first mural at age 16 and became a professional muralist in his early 20's, creating artworks across Connecticut and in other locations, including Florida. LaBossiere said he plans to do a touch-up on one of his murals in the Hartford Public Library which depicts Mark Twain as a bubbler in a giant aquarium, and has volunteered to make any necessary repairs or touch-ups to the Secret Garden mural for the next decade.

"It's just something I'm having a real blast doing, and I'm hoping this will be a springboard toward more public and larger-scale projects," LaBossiere said.

While the mural at St. Mary Home is in a relatively private area, LaBossiere said he sometimes chatted with residents who were working on their own art projects in the courtyard while he was painting.

"Part of my mission in life is to build community through creativity, and I think a mural like this helps draw people together," LaBossiere said.

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