Bringing people together, especially in challenging times, is the goal of a mural that was just painted in town.

The large, brightly colored mural, which says “Love Abundantly,” is spray painted along the wall outside of The Authentic Athlete, and right in front of Green & Tonic at 1096 Boston Post Road.

The building is part of the Corbin District and owned by Baywater Properties developer David Genovese.

Norwalk artist Brian Kaspr painted the mural, which is about 10 feet high and 40 feet wide. The wall he painted on was previously white, but prior to that had a mural that contained the Green & Tonic logo on it.

The idea

Whenever Kaspr travels for work, he often makes announcements on Instagram, offering to paint a mural on an outdoor, public wall, for free.

Last summer, he painted a mural on a house on Outlook Drive, near where Darien resident Tierre Hessert lives.

“It was being torn down and I painted it from top to bottom,” Kaspr said.

The message he painted on the house was “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”

“She saw that and had become a fan,” he added, referring to Hessert.

Hessert said she loved the message on the mural because it was a conversation piece.

“When he did the house, all the neighbors were talking about it,” she said. “They were riding their bikes to go see it. I think it’s just a great way to bond the community and have people gather in a place and appreciate a fun message and a cool piece of art.”

Hessert, who moved to town two years ago from Manhattan, said what she misses most about living in the city is all the art around her.

“It makes it so bright and fun. It just brings a lot of joy to the neighborhood and the town, and I think it brings people together,” she said.

The house Kaspr painted remained up for about two weeks before it was torn down.

Hessert contacted Kaspr about future murals he could paint in town. She knew Genovese and sent a message to him.

He was very supportive of the concept.

“We’ve always loved the idea of incorporating some public art over time, in the Corbin project,” Genovese said. “Now is a great time to put out some cool art, a thoughtful message about how we ought to be living in these times.”

Getting approval

At the June 16 Architectural Review Board meeting, Genovese said a lot of the development that’s happening around the country today is public art that is movable and temporary.

“We thought this mural was a way to start the conversation and conduct a bit of an experiment,” he said. “Our idea is to do something like this on a more regular basis.”

Kaspr’s mural would be there for about two years, until the building is torn down as part of the Corbin redevelopment project in town.

Initially, several board members were not in favor of the idea, saying they wouldn’t want to have the responsibility of deciding what public messages are good and what are bad.

It was eventually approved with the agreement to paint over it if, in a few weeks, there are too many complaints about it.

“People love change, art, positive messages, transitory, quick moving changing things,” Genovese said. “I think we could commit to taking it down in a couple of weeks.”

Purpose of art

“It’s really important to infuse art into everyday life,” said Kaspr, 36, a graphic designer who has been painting since high school. He graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

“I am a firm believer in art as healing and therapeutic and important when things seem unclear,” he added.

He has already painted about a dozen murals, including some in Los Angeles, Calif and Atlanta, GA.

“All have generally had positive messages,” said Kaspr, who has a newborn son with his wife Payton.

The messages were: “Wait, it gets better.” “Making it up as we go,” and “I’m sitting at the top.”

Kasp addressed art in light of current times, saying that whenever there were periods of uncertainty in the world, such as after 9-11, “one of the first casualties we saw was the arts had been canceled,” he said. “People buying music, going to the theater — those are the first things to drop off because art is initially seen as extra.”

Additionally, he said one of the first casualties of war is art.

“People see it as an extra thing that you don’t necessarily need, but I find it incredibly important,” he said.

With his messages on his murals, he said he “wants to take that impulse with what I feel is a real need in times of crisis, and shout it out.”

He added it’s important for small towns like Darien to embrace “risks like this.”

“It encourages people to want to support the arts and support small artist like myself,” he said.

Kampf is offering to paint any wall in an outdoor public area, for the cost of the materials. Those who are interested may contact bkaspr.com/.

Next weekend, Kaspr is painting a mural for the Boys & Girls Club in Bridgeport, which says “Be Yourself.”

Rainbow art

At the same time as Kaspr’s mural was being planned in town, Darien resident Emily Bryan was looking for ways to recognize Pride Month, which is in June.

She and others in town came up with a grassroots social media campaign asking people to show their pride from their doorsteps with rainbow art.

The group would like residents to decorate their driveways with chalk rainbows, their trees with rainbow ribbons and their pathways with rainbow rocks.

“Although last year there was an event at the Darien Library with the Triangle Community Center, this year in light of the coronavirus, not much had occurred,” she said. “Marie Morgan, Gray Roedel, Arpita Muchal, Judy Karas Phillips and Michael Cortese and I all discussed ways that we could celebrate Pride, given that we only had a week left of Pride Month.”

While Kaspr’s mural “wasn’t originally devised to be about Pride Month, it certainly is in the spirit of accepting all diversity, and also gets at the heart of what we are trying to do, which is to love every single human being without prejudice but with full and open hearts,” she said. “It was really just a wonderful coincidence.”

“Hopefully, kids and adults will look out for signs of the rainbow, and know that we are a community that values and cherishes everyone,” she added.

More art in town?

Hessert said she would love to see more murals painted in Darien.

“There are empty walls like the one where Brian painted that just need to be spiced up and have some color on them,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a written message. It can just be a beautiful piece of art on different walls.”

Hessert continued: “It’s really important in this time, especially after this quarantine, that people in Darien and all towns have places that they can gather that are interesting and fun, and places that bring people into our town. I really hope that this wall inspires people to come and park, get a drink at Green & Tonic, walk down to get a coffee, and shop in our local shops. It’s for our town.”

Watch the Archectectural Review Board meeting on Darien TV/79.

sfox@darientimes.com