Newport's Main Street Mural is getting a huge lift! A large-scale, community-wide Reproduction of the Mural is taking place.
Find out more about the Mural Reproduction below, and see what happened at the Mural Festival on Sat. June 18th!
Preserving Newport's Main Street Heritage Muralof the Johnson Block "Train" Historic Mural
Mural Festival kick-starts Heritage Reproduction Effort in Downtown Newport
On Saturday, June 18th, over 30 artists gathered together on the Newport Town Common to begin painting work on the Newport Main Street Heritage Mural Reproduction—a large-scale, community-wide effort coordinated by the Library Arts Center. Saturday’s Festival was the climax of months of planning for to help revive one of Newport’s treasured, aging heritage murals. Project Lead Artist Heidi Lorenz spent countless hours creating a sketch of the Mural’s design that was traced onto each of the 36 newly-constructed panels. Lorenz also developed a “common color palette” used by all artists at the event, and pre-mixed many gallons paint, specifically developed for use in outdoor murals. The Common was transformed into an outdoor painting studio under three large event tents on the North end of the green. Custom easels were built by Project Lead Carpenter Nick Scalera to hold the large 4×4’ panels so the artists could work at eye level. The many hours of preparation paid off, as the coordinated effort allowed all the artists at the event to efficiently paint a substantial portion of the panels during the four-hour outdoor event.
The original mural, painted by a devoted group of community members in 1997 during the New England Artist Congress, had fallen into great disrepair over the past 25 years. While there had been occasional efforts to spearhead a restoration, none of the efforts were carried through to completion. After examining the condition of the mural last year, it was determined that many of the mural panels would likely crumble to pieces upon removal from the building—Newport’s historic Johnson Block occupied by local business Newport Fitness for much of the last 20 years. The team decided that a reproduction was necessary—rather than a restoration that would have utilized painting on top of the existing panels. The Library Arts Center is spearheading the effort, in partnership with building owners Jeff and Heidi North of Newport. The Center launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $40,000 necessary to complete the project earlier this year. Through generous contributions from local businesses and individuals, coupled with a generous $15,000 matching donation from long-time Newport residents Harold and Gerry LaValley, fundraising for the project was complete in early June.
Project Lead Historian Pam LaFountain has researched the history of all the buildings and landmarks depicted in the mural, and she developed an engaging Newport history “quiz” in the form of a brochure that was distributed to visitors to the Festival. (Copies are also available at the Library Arts Center!) Over the course of the next several months, LaFountain will continue to develop historical resources to educate town residents about the significance of the landmarks depicted in the mural.
Next Steps for the Project
Up next, Lorenz will spend the next few months unifying the 36 individual panels into one large cohesive painting. Every effort is being taken to ensure that this reproduction will have outstanding longevity, from the archival paints used, to the new panels made of durable MDO (Medium Density Overlay) to help the new mural stand the test of time. Once the painting is complete, the piece will be spray-coated with an automotive-grade UV protective coating to help extend its life. The completed mural will be re-installed on the building later this Fall, and a planned “block party-style” celebration will bring the project to completion.
Participating artists included: Elizabeth Moore, Gwen Fuller, Pam LaFountain, Patti Warren, Nancy Barton, Nathan Stark, Paula St. Jean, Kathryn Hanson, Jennifer Stark, Caitlin Mauser Rowe, Marilyn McLaughlin, Mary Willis, Laura McCoy, Emily McCoy, Connor Clark, Debbee Skinner, Carolyn Taggart, Kent Stetson, Betsy Derrick, Annie Renner, Marty Lovely, Sandy Luckury, Bambi DeFilippis, Lucy Mueller, Mary Bourdon, Ann St. Martin Stout, Thomas Kelley, Lissa Malloy, Chris Rollins, Chrissie Beaudet, Kris Cairelli, and Irene Chavez.
Is this a Mural Restoration or a Reproduction?
Many have asked if this project is considered a “restoration” or “reproduction”. As the original mural is literally falling off the building in pieces, and many of the original panels are damaged beyond repair, it is impossible to restore the mural in a way that would allow for greater longevity. Therefore, a full-scale reproduction of the mural is being initiated.
The reproduction effort will honor the landmarks, character, and palette of the original mural, while also allowing for small changes that will help to enhance the mural artistically–such as aligning the perspective of various buildings and creating more striking contrast between various elements.
Newporters, it is time to “come together again” to do your part in making sure that this piece of artistic history is preserved for generations to come. Already there are pieces of the Train Mural that have disappeared from the Newport landscape. The Newport House, the Universalist Church, the railroad tracks themselves and the flagman’s hut are some of these features. Sled dog racing, which has a rich history connected to Newport and our Winter Carnival, is also preserved on the mural, but no longer part of the carnival. It is time to “bring back” that spirit of community. After two years of lockdowns, remote learning, and social distancing, let’s bring back the original spirit of the Artist Congress and “leave behind needed, lasting, treasured contributions to the community.” We can only hope that as we strive to reach a monetary goal, and help in the painting process, we can again, as was true during the first mural painting sessions, see the elders of our community share their experiences that will inspire the young to ask questions and want to learn more about the community in which they live.
Larry Cote at the Newport Historical Museum for pulling together articles about the 1997 Artist Congress and Train Mural, which include “Welcome and thank you”- September 25, 1997 News Leader, and “There’s a Mural Movement Afoot in Newport, New Hampshire.”
New England Artist Congress IV Program pg. 19 by Ann St. Martin Stout
The History of Newport New Hampshire From 1766 to 1878 by Edmund Wheeler
Celebrating Community: Newport New Hampshire, 1761-2011, by Jayna Huot Hooper
Kate N. Luppold
Executive Director, Library Arts Center
Help preserve Newport's Community Heritage Mural!
We need you to join us to bring this reproduction to life! We are looking for all members of the community to join in any way that they are able. We are looking for business sponsors, as well as organizations, families and individuals to donate funds and volunteer, to help us make this important preservation effort possible. Read more below and on the links on this page to find out more about this exciting Mural Project.