Downtown Barriers

The Rochester Museum of Fine Arts (RMFA) has partnered with the City of Rochester’s Economic Development Department to commission a vibrant new art project. Volunteers from the RMFA have transformed the city’s temporary outdoor dining areas on North Main Street with a stunning display of painted jersey barriers.

Conceived by artist Mike Durkee, the design features a continuous five-color gradient mountain range and skyscape across more than 20 cement barriers. Working closely with Durkee, the RMFA designed a concept that would be both colorful and fun, while also being easy for volunteers to execute. The result is a vibrant display that enhances the downtown dining experience and attracts more people to local shops and restaurants.

“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 jersey 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 painting project was supported by the City of Rochester’s Economic Development Department, with Director Michael Scala citing the success of similar projects in Nashua and Manchester. Scala notes that the painted barriers are not only functional, but they also enhance the overall visual landscape of the downtown area.

“This is exactly the kind of vibrancy we need to attract more people to our downtown shops and restaurants,” said Amy Regan, Rochester Museum of Fine Arts. “We are very pleased with the results.”

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