By AVIVA LUTTRELL Recorder Staff, 4/30/2017
The faded mural at Veterans Mall is to be repainted after 27 years. April 28, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz
GREENFIELD — Twenty-seven years after it was painted on the side of the Borofsky Block overlooking Veterans Mall, Greenfield’s first downtown mural is getting a facelift.
The mural, which features images of Franklin County landmarks, including Poet’s Seat Tower and the Eunice Williams Covered Bridge, was painted in 1990. Rebecca Tippens of Colrain, who produced the original mural, has been awarded a $1,000 Arts Lottery Grant to refurbish the painting, which has faded over time. She plans to organize a group of volunteers to repaint the mural over two weeks, beginning May 12.
The project will be completed before the town’s Memorial Day parade on May 29.
Tippens said she contacted the Greenfield Business Association and the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce late last year after noticing the condition of the mural. She questioned whether it would be better to refurbish the existing mural or paint a new one, and received an overwhelming response in favor of keeping the existing artwork.
“I was driving by and I went, ‘Golly, this used to be an emblem of Greenfield and Franklin County, and now it looks like we don’t care because it’s kind of shabby,’” she said. “It would be nice to have her glow again because it’s a real symbol of what we love, and we want to make people see the vibrancy of our re-emerging arts scene, in particular.”
The mural features large images of Franklin County landmarks painted like old postcards. The background includes a river, trees and people. There are also several smaller images bordering the mural, such as corn, a pig, strawberries and ice skates, which Tippens said could be updated to reflect how the community has changed since the mural was first painted.
“I noticed yesterday that the pig there is almost all faded out, so it would be easy to paint over that — maybe we put in solar panels,” she said. “What I want is input from the community so people know it’s their mural, reflective of their town.”
Tippens said anyone in Franklin County is welcome to put their suggestions in a comment box at the Greenfield Public Library beginning Tuesday.
Scaffolding for the project is being donated by Redeker Rentals of Bernardston, paint is being donated by Golden Artist Colors Inc. of New York — the company that donated paint for the original mural — and paint brushes are being donated by Sherwin-Williams and Baker Office Supply.
Richard Larsen, painter, is going to patch holes and apply a UV coating to protect the mural.
Tippens is also seeking donations to make informational pamphlets about the history of the mural, which are not covered by the grant. She said Peter Miller, member of the Greenfield Historical Commission, has agreed to help with that portion of the project.
The original mural caused a political uproar in the summer of 1990 when some of the town’s selectmen felt it was inappropriate for Main Street and held up the project by denying a scaffold permit, according to Recorder archives. They also considered blocking the mural by asking the town attorney if it could be legally considered a sign. If so, town zoning would have prohibited the mural unless the town’s Zoning Board of appeals granted a special permit.
The town held a public meeting about the project in the Greenfield High School cafeteria, which was attended by at least 100 people. Eventually, the selectmen dropped their opposition to the mural.
“It wasn’t but a year later that everyone felt that this image of the town and the county was perfect, and so when I suggested taking it down and doing a new one for this instead of refurbishing it, people went bananas because this has come to mean and symbolize what our history is,” Tippens said.
She said anyone can participate in the project, regardless of skill level.
“It would be nice to have people from Greenfield Community College, art students to come down, too, just because a lot of the people have never done outdoor mural painting before and there are some things you might learn, but the joy of painting might just be contagious,” she said.
The painting will take place from May 12 to 28, and will likely begin at 9 a.m. and wrap up by 6 p.m.
Those interested in making a donation or volunteering can contact Tippens at 624-5140 or email@example.com.
You can reach Aviva Luttrell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or 413-772-0261, ext. 268
On Twitter: @AvivaLuttrell
Posted: to Mural News on Sun, Apr 30, 2017
Updated: Mon, Nov 30, 2020