Bangor’s ‘Hopeful’ new piece of public art on Main Street was unveiled by the United Way on Thursday evening. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A new piece of public art in downtown Bangor was unveiled on Thursday evening, with a message to all residents of the region: to be hopeful.

“Hopeful,” a permanent light-up electrical installation created by Yarmouth-based artist Charlie Hewitt, was installed on Monday on the Main Street-facing side of 152 Main St., and on Thursday, staff from United Way of Eastern Maine flipped the switch to light it up for the first time.

“It’s even bigger and better than I imagined. And it’s beautiful,” said Jesse Moriarty, chief operating and experience officer, who spearheaded the effort to bring the sign to Bangor.

Moriarty said the entire purpose of the installation was summed up when the sign was installed on Monday. She said a woman passed by and saw it being put on the building, and came up to the crew in tears.

“She said, ‘I really needed this. Thank you so much,’” Moriarty said. “That’s what we want. We want those moments, when people can see this, and think to themselves, ‘it’s going to be OK. I can get through this. We can get through this.’”

Hewitt has already installed a number of his “Hopeful” sculptures in Maine, including on top of the Speedwell Building on Forest Avenue in Portland, at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, and on the side of the Bates Mill Complex in Lewiston. Hewitt says the sculpture is meant to both remind people to be hopeful, and to challenge them to make their community a better place.

“Hopeful is not a gift – it’s a challenge,” Hewitt said in the application for city approval of the installation. “To be hopeful requires action, it requires commitment. It is my wish that this sign will serve as a symbol to the citizens of Bangor as a message of hope and inspiration, and that it will provoke a dialogue and illuminate our better natures.”

The sign, when it is lit, can be seen all the way up Main Street, as well as from the upper floors of buildings all around town and from parts of the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge and in Brewer.

United Way, along with Bangor Savings Bank, Cross Insurance and Bangor’s Commission on Cultural Development, managed to raise $33,000 over the spring and summer. The sign was fabricated at Neokraft Signs in Lewiston. The money paid for the fabrication, the installation in Bangor and the continued maintenance.

The sculpture joins the “Welcome to Bangor” mural painted by Annette Dodd on the opposite side of 152 Main St., which is owned by Peter Brountas, who operates the Main Tavern. Also located in that building is Robinson Ballet, the artistic director of which, Stevie McGary, who was on hand to watch the sign lighting.

“It’s a really cool feeling to be in a building that is covered in art, and we’re inside being artistic as well,” she said.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.