On Sunday, April 10, Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) unveiled the much awaited We Are Milford Mural project, a collaborative effort directed by an all volunteer committee of artists, local business owners and community organizers. The 288-square foot mural was installed on the side of Arena’s in Milford that will be visible to pedestrians and drivers on Park Avenue.
“Three local artists designed the mural with input from the organizing committee,” said Noa Kornbluh, Main Street Community Coordinator for DMI. “The 24-by-12-foot mural is painted on nine panels of marine grade plywood.”
There are nine volunteers on the committee, including the three lead artists – Lori Conner, Gilberto Rodriguez and DeMarcus Shelborne. There were also six Milford High School students who assisted the artists in painting the mural. Ms. Kornbluh said that the committee hoped that the mural would encourage others to develop public art projects throughout downtown. She stated at the unveiling ceremony that the mural depicts a home town that reflected the many different cultures and backgrounds that make the Milford Community what it is.
“I hope for those that do not live here, it tells a little bit about the community and what we value; the river the arts and diversity,” said Kornbluh. “For those that do live here, I hope that they are proud of it and they feel that it represents their community.”
The artists that helped to create the mural, along with several Milford High School students, came from several diverse backgrounds and experiences in the art world. Lori Conner is a self-taught artist who was born and raised in Southern California. As the owner of Blu Butterfly, her art studio in Milford, Ms. Conner instructs people of all ages in the art of painting on canvas. She also works offsite painting commissioned murals such as one at the Dover Air Force Base Pax Terminal and Kaza Medical Group in Dover.
“Seeing the longterm goal of unveiling it to the city and bringing people together was exciting,” said Conner. “Diversity is part of the backbone that brings us together. I want the mural to touch people’s heart and for them to think about this place as their home..”
Gilberto Rodriguez is originally from Cordoba, Veracruz, Mexico. At the age of six, his first professional art pieces were acrylics and watercolor on canvas and paper. He has been married to his wife, Blanca for almost 15 years and they have three children, Korayma, Carlo and Sharon. Mr. Rodriguez has a permanent display at the Georgetown Public Library and has displayed his work at art shows at Delaware State University, Mispillion Art League, The Upper Crust in Georgetown, the Hispanic Festival and the Rehoboth Film Festival. He recently created the Crystal Restaurant mural in Rehoboth Beach based on Molyvos Lesbos, Greece.
Demarcus Shelborne attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia from 2002-2004, studying media arts and animation, hoping to enter graphic design. In 2008, while expecting his daughter’s arrival, he trained as a tattoo artist in order to maintain a career based in art that was still profitable. In 2015, he opened Body Canvas Tattoo Shop in Milford, introducing a bi-monthly “Life-In-Color” exhibit in order to create a platform for talented urban artists throughout the tri-state area. He has not forgotten his roots in other mediums, however. Mr. Shelborne paints in acrylic or watercolor, does charcoal work, as well as mixed-medium pieces. Milford High School students involved in the mural project include Adrianna Campos, Christian Barron,Jasmine Castaneda, Esther Lee, Jose Casanora-Melendez and Neishaly Romero.
Although there are no more future murals planned presently, Kornbluh said the group would like to see other business in the downtown area reach out to the artists directly about creating a mural on their building.