Downtown Barriers

Volunteers from the Rochester Museum of Fine Arts were commissioned to paint the jersey barriers surrounding temporary outdoor dining areas, on North Main Street. 

With a design conceived by artist Mike Durkee, a small group of painters executed a continuous five-color gradient mountain range and skyscape across more than 20 cement barriers. 

“We worked with Durkee to create a design that would be colorful, fun, and easy for volunteers to fill in,” said Amy Regan, Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. “We are very pleased with the results. This is exactly the kind of vibrancy we need to attract more people to our downtown shops and restaurants.”

The barriers were originally installed in 2020 as part of the city’s response to COVID-19. At the time, the lack of indoor seating would have been detrimental to most restaurants. City staff worked swiftly to install outdoor dining options within two weeks, according to Jennifer Marsh, Assistant Director of Economic Development, City of Rochester. 

“The option for outdoor dining was critical to the success of my restaurant over the past year,” said Chef Kris Enis, owner of Fallen Leaf Bistro. “I love that the barriers were painted. It makes such a difference!”

The painting project was supported by the city’s Economic Development Department. Director Michael Scala cites the success of similar projects in Nashua and Manchester. 

“Jersey barriers are necessary to keep people safe while dining outdoors,” said Scala. “Other cities have done similar art projects to make the barriers more attractive to residents and visitors. The art in our downtown is positively  enhancing the overall visual landscape.”

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