ARTIST RETURNS 30 YEARS LATER TO RESTORE NEW LONDON’S WHALING WALL
New London’s “The Great Sperm Whales” mural is one of 100 in the world and the only one in Connecticut
New London, Conn., March 23, 2023 – Thirty years after painting a mural at the corner of Eugene O’Neill Drive and State Street, marine life artist and conservationist Wyland will return to New London to restore it. Wyland, called a "Marine Michelangelo" by USA Today, will be here Saturday, April 1, and Sunday, April 2 to repaint the 175-foot-long by 35-foot-high mural. The mural, which depicts sperm whales and dolphins, has deteriorated over the years.
Wyland donates his time to paint murals to bring awareness to his foundation. the Wyland Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting, and preserving the world’s oceans, waterways, and marine life.
“New London has always been honored to be one of 100 municipalities in the world to have a mural by Wyland, a renowned artist. We are beyond thrilled that Wyland has agreed to come here to make improvements to the mural,” Mayor Michael Passero said.
Wyland will put finishing touches to the mural on Monday, April 3, and then at 2 p.m. there will be a special dedication ceremony, where Wyland, Mayor Passero, and others will speak. Passero will also make an announcement, inviting other municipal leaders to join the 2023 Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge, which encourages mayors to get the largest number of residents committing to conserving water. To take part, go to mywaterpledge.com and make a series of pledges to conserve water on behalf of New London. In return, residents can win more than $50,000 in eco-friendly prizes.
On the Saturday and Sunday of the mural painting, Wyland will be working 10-hour days, starting at around 8:30 a.m. and ending around sunset. The city will be setting up bleachers across the street so the public can watch Wyland at work. A 20-foot-long blank canvas will be available for local children who want to paint alongside Wyland. Art supplies will be provided to paint with, and so will samples of local marine life to provide inspiration.
On Friday, there will be people prepping the wall for Wyland to begin painting on Saturday morning. Rich Martin, chairman of the New London Cultural District, got in touch with the Wyland Foundation to see if Wyland, who lives in Florida, Hawaii, and California, would be interested in coming to make improvements to the wall, which is part of the cultural district. Wyland, who isn’t accepting new mural commissions, agreed to come out of retirement to renew the New London mural since he was already on the East Coast for a project with the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
City money will not be used to fund the project. The money comes from $275,000 in state and federal grants, and an additional $35,000 from federal ARPA money that the city council voted to have the Cultural District manage to help promote and enhance the historic downtown, tourism, and arts community.