Welcome Back: Cat Alley Revival Project

September 9, 2022

Back in 2011, I was involved with a few local art projects in Manchester, NH including a mural at the Adam D. Curtis skatepark, and a rotating project of painted panels that were to take residence in local Manchester businesses. One of the projects was painting all along Manchester’s Cat Alley.

Previously known as “Dean’s Court”, Cat Alley has, since our original project in 2011, become synonymous with open air art in Manchester, NH. When the artists were asked to paint in 2011, there was no payment rendered — artists used whatever supplies, so it is not surprising to find that after 11 hard years out in the elements, many of the works didn’t hold up. In 2022, it’s time for something new.

Orbit Group’s Dave Hady put out a call to artists and carefully examined portfolios and concept sketches. It was a hard choice, but Dave selected 18 artists to create works that would shape the new Cat Alley. Along with some renovations like an LED sign, solar lighting, a cat tessellation crosswalk, and cat shaped bicycle racks, Cat Alley has shaped up to be a real piece of Manchester, NH history.

I was ecstatic to return to Cat Alley and redo my work! It had never come out the way I wanted it to, so it was my shot at personal redemption.

A panoramic photo of the entire wall facade of the Bookery with a variety of cat-themed paintings mocked up on it.
I was given spot #6!

I knew I had to start right away, being above two other artists and not wanting to constantly show up and not be able to work on my piece or get in the way of others. On the first day, I gulped as I realized I’d have to be on a ladder — a twenty foot or so ladder — the entire time to do my work. Getting over a mild fear of heights? Let’s do this.

Artist Aimee Cozza standing on a ladder working on her mural of nebulas and stars in Cat Alley.

Having a larger mural means it’s hard to know if something you did looks good when you’re that close to it, so you have to move up and down the ladder and back up to see if it looks good. Having someone there to ask is also helpful. 🙂 I had multiple someones there to ask!

One other problem I ran into was I prepared some stencils for use on the wall, but they all ended up being too small for the space. I held up my cat stencil, which was tiny in comparison to the rest of the piece, and I sighed, knowing I would have to freehand it. Ah well, c’est la vie.

The last and biggest problem is that from the ground, the work is a bit hard to see. Glare from the sunlight makes it hard to make out what it is, and the dips and texture of the brickwork doesn’t help. We will try to rectify this by putting a matte coating varnish over the whole thing.

The final Cat Alley space cat mural, which has vibrant colors of orange, yellow, red, purple, pink, blue, and green, and a large cat sitting on the edge of the brickwork.
The final work!
The Cat Alley space cat mural from the street looking up.

The people who live across the way said it looks amazing from their windows, so they saw what I saw — lots of details and vibrance. Definitely different from my original work and hopefully another 11+ year addition to the alley!

Meet & Greet with the Artists

Another thing that was organized is a meet and greet with the artists, happening September 12th at 5-7 pm. RSVP and stop by to say hello and check out all of the amazing new additions to Cat Alley!

Aimee Cozza is a freelance illustrator out of Southern New Hampshire. She graduated from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. Since then, she has been working in a variety of ways completing various illustrations for clients, friends, and for herself.

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