Waterbury Village has seen its share of challenges -- floods and fires, booms and busts. Each time, the community has come back to life more vibrant than before.
To mark the 10th anniversary of the day Tropical Storm Irene devastated the town, a group of Waterbury residents hopes to celebrate the community’s resilience with a two-story depiction of a phoenix, the mythical bird that repeatedly rose from its own ashes.
Waterbury Arts, a new group of volunteers dedicated to public art, has launched a drive to raise enough money to install “Phoenix Rising” on the side of a brick building on Stowe Street, in the heart of the village. The public art piece measures approximately 22 feet high by 21 feet wide and was designed by former Waterbury resident Jessi Zawicki. Her colorful portrayal of the imaginary bird was the winner of a public design competition in 2019.
With the rising costs of fabrication and installation, the group says it needs to raise $40,000 to bring the “Phoenix Rising” vision to life. An anonymous donor has already contributed $10,000 to the effort. Because the art will be installed on an historic brick building, organizers have acquired the necessary permits and permissions. The rendering will be affixed to an aluminum panel and anchored into secure masonry in the mortar joints, as recommended by the Director of Preservation at Vermont State Historic Sites. This approach will make the piece removable instead of permanent.
“As an art major, I learned the impact art can have on the collective conscience of a community,” said Anne M. Imhoff, a member of Waterbury Arts. “A phoenix is an appropriate symbol for Waterbury because it represents renewal and offers hope and inspiration.” Imhoff was one of the co-founders of Revitalizing Waterbury in 1991 and has been recognized for decades of public service to the town.
Waterbury Arts has set up a GoFundMe account and donations are accepted on their website at www.WaterburyArts.com. While organizers say any amount is greatly appreciated, donors of $500 or more will have their name listed on a plaque at the installation. Waterbury Arts expects to unveil the new piece of public art on August 28 as part of a weekend commemoration of the 2011 flood.
The Waterbury Area MakerSphere Cooperative Inc is the fiscal agent for Waterbury Arts and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.