Artists sought to bring culture, color to Holyoke’s Main Street

  • Banners are seen installed along Main Street Holyoke in December for El Corazon/The Heart of Holyoke’s placemaking project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 6/6/2020 2:00:58 PM

HOLYOKE — The city is seeking artists for what it calls a “placemaking” project that aims to recognize the Puerto Rican and Latinx community with a variety of public art displays.

El Corazón/The Heart of Holyoke envisions placing large-scale (10 by 25 feet) photographs in five locations along Main Street, as well as a large-scale painting on 12 panels on the corner of Main and Sargeant streets; the size of that complete work would be 42 by 7 feet.

Artists selected for the project, city officials say, will be asked to create work to represent themes, previously identified in a community survey, that celebrate Puerto Rican traditions and art, family life, sports and other elements. Adding public art along these design lines on Main Street, a gateway into the city, will ideally spark greater pride in the community, project organizers say.

As an introduction to the project puts it, “Imagine a vibrant Main Street with colorful banners, large-scale art works, dynamic lighting, beautiful murals, food trucks and art festivals. A Main Street that reflects the vital culture of the surrounding neighborhoods, improves neighborhood perceptions, and catalyzes economic opportunity for the local community.”

Art proposals for El Corazón/The Heart of Holyoke are due June 30. To be eligible, participating artists need to have a connection to the Puerto Rican/Latix community through living or working in Holyoke or previously being in the city; address at least one of the identified themes of the project; hold a public workshop (in-person or online) on their art; and attend mentorship and project development sessions.

Artists selected for the project will be mentored by interdisciplinary artist Shey Rivera Ríos of Providence, Rhode Island during the process of creating their pieces. More info about Ríos is available at

About $45,000 is available for the project, including $25,260 generated through a “Commonwealth Places” crowdfunding campaign, as well as a $20,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Development & Finance Agency (MassDevelopment). Partners in the project include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Holyoke Local Cultural Council, the Mass Cultural Council and others.

Interested artists can submit an online application to be part of El Corazón/The Heart of Holyoke. You can also contact Cynthia Espinosa, the senior project manager, at (413) 322-5655 or

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at

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