July 25, 2024


Full Of Eastern Travel

Giant octopus the latest mural on Fairfield’s Circle Inn

Those driving by the Circle Inn Fairfield might do a double take when they see the giant mythical octopus climbing the wall. It didn’t just crawl out of the sea — it’s part of the inn’s ever-changing wall mural, which serves as a giant canvas for local artists. 

The octopus that now graces the side of the building was painted during the last week of April by local artist Teresa Rainieri over the course of 20 hours with help from her friends and family. 

“My thought process while painting the octopus was that we were rolling into the summer and the [beach] is just a block or two away,” she said. “The Circle Inn has a very beachy theme, and I just kind of ran with the time of the season.” 

Rainieri’s summer-themed octopus follows the barn swallow she painted on the hotel last November, which she said matched the spirit of the season.

“[The barn swallow] was such a hit,” she said. “It just tied in with a feeling of peace and serenity. The world kind of slows down a little bit in November and December, not so many people are outside.”

Rainieri first partnered with the hotel’s sister location Hotel Hi-Ho before she was invited to work on Circle Inn’s mural. Earlier in the year, she also hosted an art show in the hotel to raise money for a scholarship fund to help graduating high school seniors in Fairfield pursuing careers in areas like in fine art, film and animation, among others. Rainieri said that a portion of the sales of all of her products goes towards the fund.

The barn swallow mural painted at the Circle Inn by Teresa Rainieri.

The barn swallow mural painted at the Circle Inn by Teresa Rainieri.

Rick Emery / contributed

While Rainieri’s Circle Inn mural is the latest, it is not the first to grace the hotel’s wall. The mural project started in 2019 when its staff were trying to decide how they could put the blank wall of the hotel building to use. 

“We thought of it from an advertising perspective and realized it was a really creative space and we’re all for helping and assisting local artists,” Hotel Manager Rick Emery said.

Painting the hotel’s first mural was Three Roses Studio tattoo artist Frankie Frieri, who painted bees. Since Frieri, the mural has been painted five more times over the years by other artists including Brian Kaspr, Leslie Cober and JPO Art. Emery said the hotel’s mural project has since garnered support from town of Fairfield and generated significant interest from local artists.

Bees painted at the Circle Inn by Frankie Frieri.

Bees painted at the Circle Inn by Frankie Frieri.

Rick Emery / contributed

“We have so many people that want to be on the wall, not only for visibility but because it’s a cool project,” Emery said. 

Cober, who created a “LOVE.PEACE.HARMONY” mural in 2020, drew it with an optimistic theme to help a world experiencing the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I believed diversity was a necessity on the mural and painting a happy heart would incorporate those elements,” Cober said. “The heart was the initial element of the drawing. Flowers grew from the heart to represent happiness. Smaller hearts, birds, butterflies, flying hearts and thoughtful, kindhearted words such as, love, peace, harmony and happiness completed the mural.” 

The "LOVE.PEACE.HARMONY" mural at the Circle Inn, painted by Leslie Cober.

The “LOVE.PEACE.HARMONY” mural at the Circle Inn, painted by Leslie Cober.

Leslie Cober / contributed

After having a sketch approved by the inn, Cober painted her creation over the course of a week with the help of her two assistants, Alexander Gentry and Collin MacKay. The “lip flower” finishing touches on the mural were completed on the last day.

“The entire painting would emerge from the heart…the proportions and face of the heart had to be accurate, particularly the eyes, which would make or break the entire painting,” Cober said.

This required Cober to measure the heart’s proportions, and mark each measurement, turn and element she planned to add to the mural on the wall using painter’s tape. From there, it was a matter of trusting her design. Cober says she will also be starting a large mural at the Danbury Fair Mall based on diversity in July. 

“Referring to my sketch, I freehanded with sharpie everything else on the wall,” Cober said.

When selecting the next artist to paint the hotel’s mural, Emery says the hotel requests information on artists’ background or art style  from those who express interest to determine if they would be a good fit. Murals are typically painted three to six months apart from each other. 

“There is really no one we’ve been against because art is open to interpretation for a lot of different reasons. We just kind of go through [their information] and say ‘This is funky, this is cool, let’s give it a shot,” Emery said. “We give someone a blank slate and say ‘go.'” 

"Hey Good Looking" painted at the Circle Inn by Brian Kaspr.

“Hey Good Looking” painted at the Circle Inn by Brian Kaspr.

Rick Emery / contributed

Emery said he would love to see more murals pop up everywhere and continue breaking the “bad rap” they’ve had to keep “becoming a part of local communities.”