Muralist makes splash on New Bedford overpass walls

NEW BEDFORD — Fish don’t usually swim through the trees, but that’s exactly what the cod are doing in the North End.

The cod featured in one of the city’s newest murals, that is.

“School of Cod” is the name of the design along the large walls under the Interstate 195 overpass that crosses Belleville Avenue at the corner of Kenyon Street. It was the winning design in a contest organized by the New Bedford Public Art Committee, submitted by city artist Alex Jardin.

The design features a school of cod and bluefin tuna swimming through a sea of elm trees.

Jardin said he isn’t an artist, per se — he just likes to draw and paint.

But he has some serious experience drawing trees. After graduating from New Bedford High School in 2007, Jardin earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013.

“I painted and drew a lot of trees and I had to align what I wanted with what the city wanted” for the mural, Jardin said, hence the fish swimming through the trees.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said that public art can’t just be “plain vanilla” — it has to be visually stimulating to passersby.

The point of such murals is a sense of pride, the mayor added, and there are more to come.

Asked if there were concerns that the murals could be defaced, Mitchell said he isn’t worried. “Murals in general don’t get trashed,” he said.

There will be more to come, too, Mitchell said. The committee is reviewing other proposed designs that could start springing up soon on other large, currently blank walls in the city.

“This is part of the new face of New Bedford,” said the mayor.

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