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Art brings Longmont neighborhood together

The Kitely Neighborhood project is the first public art project through the NIP grant.

By the end of Labor Day Weekend, Athletic Field Park’s basketball court and sidewalks will be covered by brightly-painted characters. The mural was painted by volunteers and remains open to community participants.

Through the Neighborhood Improvement Program, or NIP, the Kitely Neighborhood was awarded a $4,300 public art grant to paint a mural on its basketball court. Longmont Art in Public Places, or AIPP, and the city of Longmont Community and Neighborhood Resources partnered on this project.

After receiving public feedback, Loveland-based artist JC Milner’s design was chosen. Milner’s design consists of cartoonish animals and objects. The main mural is on the basketball court, but surrounding sidewalks will also have paintings. Though she painted the outline and will be leading the painting process, Longmont locals are encouraged to volunteer and help complete the mural.

Milner said she enjoys community collaboration projects like the Athletic Field Park because of how it connects residents to the place they live.

“People who care about their community in any kind of way, whether they're planting flowers or painting together or designing play structures, when they have some input and some time together they tend to bond. And especially for kids, they take care of what they've cared for as a kid. It's a sense of pride,” Milner said. “I hope that neighbors come and at least paint a little bit, at least put a few strokes on there.”

The NIP grant covers materials and the artist contract, and the community will provide 60 hours — a $1,200 value — between painting, planning, organizing celebrations and supporting the design selection, according to AIPP administrator Angela Brill. 

The Kitely Neighborhood project is the first public art project through the NIP grant. Brill said the partnership strives to not only improve the appearance of the neighborhood, but will bring a sense of unity.

“I think that the goal of successful public art, working this bridge of Neighborhood Improvement Program with Public Art, is actually creating community, not creating something for the community,” Brill said. “When people come together, and they create together, they're able to tell the story of their community and their neighborhood together. But then they'll also find things that weren't planned of bringing that togetherness.”

Milner and her friend and fellow Loveland artist Tracie Jenkins, laid down the outlines on Friday. Saturday through Monday was open to volunteer painters with multiple shifts.