For Kim Carlino, a giant mural project on the exterior wall of a downtown business on Lyman Street had its challenges, but was a labor of love from start to finish.
"I love all of it," Carlino said. "The excitement of creating, the tediousness of hours and hours of touch-up, the struggle and fear of things not working out and the satisfaction of standing back and saying, 'I stood the course and look what it became.'"
The mural, called "Milton Bradley Deconstructed," is on the side brick wall of A.W. Gifford Locksmiths Inc., at 11 Lyman St., just off Main Street near the recently reopened Union Station. It depicts various board games and designs tied to the Milton Bradley Co., founded in Springfield in 1860.
The mural pays homage to games "Candy Land," "Chutes and Ladders" and "Twister," and has game board elements she found from the 1970 version of "Game of Life." The mural shows the checkerboard design of the games in bright colors.
The city and the Springfield Central Cultural District will host a ceremony at the new mural on Wednesday at 10:45 a.m.
Carlino began the project Sept. 7, and it took a full month to complete.
"I'm tired," Carlino said. "I love challenge and learning and trying new things, and what I have learned from mural painting is that it's an endurance sport. So I feel thrilled, like I have accomplished this huge goal and moved the bar for what I'm capable of creating even higher for the next project."
Her project was chosen by the city under a "Public Art Program" to receive a $5,000 grant from the city's federal Community Development Block Grant program. The costs were greater than $5,000, including a great amount of advance wall repairs and preparation.
Carlino said she was very grateful for the city funds and guidance and a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council. She said she is very proud of what she accomplished.
Not all costs were covered, but Carlino said it was "an honor" to do the project. She she expects public art will continue to expand in Springfield. There are also mural projects in the South End under a different program.
Carlino said she has been overjoyed by the reaction she gets from people in the area and passing by on the street.
She recalled one of the onlookers, a woman, thanking her for the mural, and telling her it brought her "brightness and happiness" after recently moving to the downtown.
Carlino is from Michigan and also lived in New York City, but has been a resident of the Pioneer Valley for about 15 years. She now lives in Easthampton. The mural was very challenging and rewarding, she said.
"I had never done a project on that scale," Carlino said. "It was the opportunity to take a vision from the very beginning to the end on this huge scale. That feels so good and so satisfying."
Brian Connors, Springfield's deputy director of economic development, praised the mural, saying it took "a bland deteriorating wall and made something very creative with it that people have been seeking out and sharing on social media."
It is visually interesting for residens of the nearby Silverbrick Lofts and travelers, Connors said.
Carlino said art is for the neighborhood and for herself, "and this project brings together my desire to create and make the world beautiful and to give back to the community."
She consulted with experts in preparing the wall before painting including the re-pointing of the bricks and power washing.
"I love taking the creative process out of the studio and into the public realm," Carlino said.
She was initially involved in music more so than art, at one time wanting to be a blues lounge singer.
In her early 20s, she started doing art, and received a bachelor of fine arts in painting from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011. Thereafter, she opened an art gallery in Easthampton.
She painted her first mural in 2014.
In the spring of 2016, Carlino was awarded a drawing fellowship through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. During a celebration event in Boston, she met state Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, and told him she hoped to do public art and specifically a wall mural.
He helped to connect her to Morgan Drewniany, the director of the Springfield Central Cultural District, and she subsequently learned about the city seeking bids for murals in the downtown area.
Carlino selected the brick wall on Lyman Street because it was large and uninterrupted, but it did pose challenges including its age and rough condition, she said.
She believes the building dates back to the 1860s.
The art project was multi-faceted with tasks such as running a budget, renting a scissor lift and deciding who to get for the power wash. She was initially going to get help from college students, but delays made that unfeasible as students returned to school, she said.
Carlino said she recalls the many days and hours of playing Milton Bradley games with her family, both as a child and continuning into her adulthood. She continues to play games "all the time" with her son.
With her art project, she wanted to take the interconnected Milton Bradley games, "and break them apart and reconfigure them into this huge, playful, geometric mural," she said.