HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A mural is being added to a building along High Street in Holyoke to honor the Puerto Rican cultural district.

Beyond Walls and Nueva Esperanza, Inc. are a part of the El Corazón / The Heart of Holyoke art project that was created in 2019. It is a plan to beautify Holyoke’s Main Street business district from I-391 to Lyman Street with Latino Ethnic Pride, known as the Heart of Holyoke.

Colorful artwork and banners are designed to encourage visitors to make the area a shopping and dining destination. The project was funded by a crowdfunding campaign in the spring of 2020 which raised a total of $25,260 and was matched with a $20,000 grant by the Massachusetts Development & Finance Agency.

Don Rimx, an artist from Puerto Rico, began prepping a three-story mural on a building located at 147 High Street this week. He began painting murals in Brooklyn, NY and has participated in national and international urban beautification projects.

Additional public art installations in September 2020 included:

  • Large-scale photo banners on four buildings along Main Street by four local artists
    • Michelle Falcón Fontánez is a multimedia Boricua artist and activist from Holyoke, MA. She creates work in photography, film, theater, and installation art.
    • Emma G Mesa-Melendez is an artist who uses portraiture to depict social and historical subject matter and celebrates national heroes that inspire social causes.
    • Dream Collective, an ever-evolving collective of trans/queer people fighting for liberation for all, particularly Black, Indigenous, trans/queer people of color through art and community initiatives.
    • Carmen (Yolanda) González, is an artist, Holyoke native, and owner of Creativity Events/Art.
  • A panel mural project on the corner of Sargeant & Main Street
    • Frankie Borrero, a Puerto Rican artist born in New York City, raised in Worcester, and now living in Springfield. 
  • Three storefront installation projects
    • Produced under the artistic leadership of Shey Rivera Rios, with collaborating artists Madeline Medina, Yadilette Rivera-Colón, and Chelvanaya Gabriel

El Corazón / The Heart of Holyoke partners include the following:

  • Mass Development
  • Holyoke Gas and Electric
  • The Member Organizations of the El Corazón Advisory Board
  • Enlace de Familias
  • South Holyoke Neighborhood Association
  • One Holyoke Community Development Corporation
  • Providence Ministries
  • Holyoke Media
  • Paper City Clothing Company
  • Radioplasma Podcast Holyoke – a Holyoke community media project
  • El Sol Latino
  • Holyoke Public Schools
  • Puerto Rican Cultural Project

Noche de San Juan Festival

Additional crowdfunding was created in May with a goal of $50,000 by June 25th, on the day of the Noche de San Juan Festival. The event is a Puerto Rican holiday tradition to celebrate the summer solstice. It is being held on Saturday, June 25 from noon to 7 p.m. at Bonin Field on S. Bridge Street in Holyoke featuring art, live music, food, and more.

According to a news release sent to 22News from Beyond Walls the Street Art Tour will include four cities, Holyoke, Fall River, Lowell, and Lynn which includes the creation of 20 expansive murals over a four-month period.