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Artist goes skyward to raise money for youth programs

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published August 20. 2013 2:49PM   Updated August 21. 2013 2:52PM
Dana Jensen/The Day
As the sun sets artist Faith Wibberley of Norwich continues to work on her mural located on the side of the Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013. Wibberley began the 24-Hour Mural LIVE ART! project at noon Tuesday and with the exception of 15 minute breaks when needed will work straight through and be completed Wednesday.

Norwich — It didn't take long for drivers to slow their cars and pedestrians to stop for quick questions as artist Faith Wibberley stood on a hydraulic lift and aimed bright yellow paint from a spray gun at the outside wall of the Spirit of Broadway Theater.

The first spray came seconds after the nearby City Hall clock struck its noon bells, and by Tuesday evening the image of a gray watering can emerged from the top right corner of the wall.

Wibberley, 33, of Norwich will work through noon today to finish her "Live Art" mural depicting a blossoming rose in a project to raise $10,000 for youth programs at Peniel Church on Boswell Avenue.

Wibberley had raised $4,555 by Tuesday evening through online donations. Donations from spectators and supporters at the scene remained uncounted.

The money is earmarked for about 20 youths and teenagers to attend an eight-week character-building program. Any leftover funds would be used as seed money to create a youth community center in the Greeneville area, Wibberley said.

Wibberley, who recently graduated from the University of Lincoln in Great Britain with a degree in illustration, is a graphic designer in the Norwich Public Schools and is an art instructor in the after-school program Aspire.

She was the only one working the spray gun Tuesday, but she said others had pledged to remain at her side throughout the 24-hour project. Her father, Sam Wibberley, worked the rented platform lift. Norwich city employees "passed the hat" to help pay for the rental, he said.

The Sherwin-Williams paint store on West Main Street donated all the paint, Sam Wibberley said. It took 15 gallons of primer to get the brick wall ready for his daughter's work.

Tariko Satterfield, a co-worker at Norwich Public Schools, stood ready at the paint staging tables, lining up cans of the colors she would want next and readying brushes for her. He said he would be security as well, if need be.

Satterfield is a member of the International Family Worship Center on New London Turnpike and said he likes the way the project has brought together people from different churches and businesses.

Norwich Public Utilities arrived at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday with a generator, two portable light stands and plenty of heavy-duty extension cords. The city Public Works Department erected barriers to protect the work space.

Faith's brother, Jonathan Wibberley, took still photographs throughout the event, and Lionel LaSalle, "the tech guy" on the project, ran the live stream video camera, a time-lapse camera and the large digital display screen where donors could sign their names.

Wibberley has been raising money online through www.crowdrise.com and live video of the project may be seen at www.24hourmural.com through noon today.

Spectators at the scene also are welcome to watch the project. All donors will receive door prize tickets for giveaways donated by local businesses.

Wibberley said she was praying for ideas on how to raise money to the youth program when she hit on the idea of creating a public art mural. She scouted the downtown area for suitable sites.

She has never done a mural project of this size — though she admitted to some 24-hour work stints in the past. At 5 feet, 11 inches tall and lean, Wibberley had no problem reaching the top corners of the wall from the lift that stopped a bit short. She sported a black shirt and black leggings, a breathing mask during the spraying operation and safety glasses.

Brett Bernardini, artistic director at the Spirit of Broadway, said he jumped at the idea when he received Wibberley's email asking for permission to paint the side wall where Bernardini has had trouble with graffiti painters. He checked out her artwork online and welcomed the project.

"I think it's a great idea," Bernardini said, wearing his own worn-out painting clothes for a project inside the theater Tuesday.

"The side of the building looked like hell, and I was getting sick of the graffiti. … We do original and creative art inside the theater, so why not have some original, creative art on the outside of the building?"

c.bessette@theday.com

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