The Public Arts Advisory Council of had its plan approved by the Borough Council for a pair of themed murals to be created and placed on the Fairmount Avenue underpass.
The murals will each incorporate significant elements of the borough’s past and present under the themes of transportation and historical and contemporary Chatham, according to Jen Kaplan of the PAC.
“The mural will not only be visually enjoyable, but it will also serve to educate observers about our historic culture and unify our identity as Chatham residents,” Kaplan said.
Although New Jersey Transit owns the underpass, it did not intend to fix the deteriorating look of the area on its own. The PAC will also not be allowed to paint its murals directly on the cement structures, but will be able to attach them to the surface via plywood.
“New Jersey Transit responded positively (to the project), but they did not give us permission to paint directly on the cement walls. Instead, they suggested that we paint on large pieces of plywood and secure them to the underpass,” Kaplan said. “Another town was successful in this kind of execution, and New Jersey Transit would like us to follow their strategy. ...
“It would make our future maintenance easier,” continued Kaplan. “Plywood could simply be removed and remounted if future maintenance were required, and it gives us the option to re-locate the mural if ever needed.”
The murals will be painted by Kenji Hasegawa, who teaches art at and . Hasegawa is an experienced muralist who designed both renderings presented to the Borough Council on Monday night.
“Kenji Hasegawa has taught art for years in Chatham, he’s an experienced artist and has specific experience working with murals,” Kaplan said. “We are extremely lucky to have found such a talented artist.”
The mural themes, which were chosen after massive public outreach yielded input from residents and approximately 20 community and borough organizations, blend together into what Hasegawa believes is an creative, yet accurate portrayal of the borough’s history.
“This is a mish-mash of what brought Chatham to where it is now,” Hasegawa said. “The flow is one that goes from past to present, from historical Chatham to contemporary Chatham.”
Although the PAC still needs to find funding for the mural project, Mayor Bruce A. Harris gave the idea his full support.
“I think this is wonderful and captures what my experience of Chatham has been,” Harris said.