American Mural Project to finally open in Spring 2022

Veteran journalist John Dankosky, actor Geoffrey Owens, and American Mural Project founder Ellen Griesedieck, during a virtual event on April 28.
Veteran journalist John Dankosky, actor Geoffrey Owens, and American Mural Project founder Ellen Griesedieck, during a virtual event on April 28.

WINSTED — After almost 20 years of work, The American Mural Project (AMP) is now scheduled to open in spring 2022.
The announcement was made during AMP’s virtual event “A Tribute to American Workers” on Wednesday, April 28.
AMP founder and Sharon resident Ellen Griesedieck started work on the project in 2003 where she planned what she describes as “the largest collaborative piece of artwork in the world — a mural 120 feet long, 48 feet high and up ten feet deep.”
In previous interviews throughout the years, Griesedieck describes the mural as a “tribute to American workers and highlights what has defined the country over the last century.”
The mural is being constructed in two former industrial buildings in downtown Winsted on 90 Whiting Street.
Throughout the years, AMP has received grants from the state’s Department of Economic Community Development, Home Depot Foundation, and Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, along with various other organizations.
During the April 29 event, AMP Executive Director Amy Wynn said that 80 percent of the mural has been installed.
The virtual event itself spotlighted the work of AMP along with workers of all kinds all across America.
The main part of the event was a conversation between founder Griesedieck, actor Geoffrey Owens, and veteran journalist John Dankosky, who is a Winsted native and is currently the executive editor of the New England News Collaborative.
Owens is a veteran actor who is known mostly for playing the character “Elvin Tibideaux” on The Cosby Show for seven years.
In 2018, Owens was in the spotlight when photographs of him working at a Trader Joe’s were published by The Daily Mail.
This led to a controversy where many people said that he was “job shamed” by the British newspaper and other media outlets that reprinted the photographs.
During the conversation, Owens discussed his life in acting along with the controversy created by The Daily Mail.
“My career doesn’t guarantee you work, no matter what you have done,” Owens said. “I was successful so early in my career when I got the Cosby Show a year-and-half after I graduated from college. Then I went through many times in my career when I didn’t work for seven to eight months at a time, sometimes more.”
“People who aren’t in that business must assume that a young man who stars in a program that is piped into all of our homes, and we all see, they think that you have it made,” Dankosky said. “They think you never have to work again in your life.”
“It’s so not true,” Owens said. “The hardest thing about a career in the arts is about keeping it going. Nothing is guaranteed. There is zero stability in my field. Not only do I not know when I am going to work again, but I also don’t know if I am going to work again.”
Owens said that he received many acting opportunities right after the Trader Joe’s/Daily Mail incident.
“But nine months after that, work stopped cold,” he said. “But that’s the field I have chosen and it’s part of the territory. The business of acting is a killer. But if you love the craft and the art of it, that’s what I have held on to. Even when I didn’t make money at acting, I have been acting anyway.”
During the conversation, Dankosky asked Griesedieck not just about her art, but the business of art.
Griesedieck said that she has also had ups and downs during her career, but she did not stop pursuing art.
“I started out being encouraged to do whatever I can do as well as I can do it the best you could do it,” Griesedieck said. “My father said to find something you love to do where you are not hurting anyone and you have found the secret of life. It’s not so easy to do if you think about it.”
Dankosky proceeded to talk to Owens and Griesedieck about “blue-collar” work, including the work Owens did at Trader Joe’s.
“It’s funny how this work has shifted in a lot of people’s minds in this past year,” Dankosky said. “In 2018, people snap a photo and write stories and say ‘how is this guy who we know from television working at Trader Joe’s,” Dankosky said. “And now, maybe some of these same people are putting hearts out in their front lawns saying ‘Yea! Essential workers!'”
“When this thing happened with me, all of a sudden there was this nationwide conversation because America has this particular problem with this idea of all work being dignified and noble,” Owens said. “I involuntarily became the poster child of this ‘All Work Matters’ movement. It was a hot topic for a year, but like anything, it started to die out. Then the pandemic hit. And now, all of a sudden, people are saying that these people who do these essential jobs, grocery store workers included, are now considered essential workers who are saving our lives. It was amazing that we needed a pandemic to remind us that these people matter. One job is not better than another.”
The event spotlighted others who have dedicated themselves to the love of their craft, with interviews of a New York City firefighter, a Police Sergeant from Brooklyn, and a farmer from Connecticut, who are all represented in the mural itself.
In the end, Dankosky emphasized the importance of workers who are still out in the field doing work that cannot be done from home.
“You just can’t milk a cow on Zoom,” Dankosky said.
For more information about the American Mural Project go to americanmuralproject.org

Here is the virtual event in full:

The Winsted Phoenix is a nonprofit organization that survives both on reader support and advertising. Please disable your adblocker or whitelist this site!

Exit mobile version