Mural Festival | June 18, 2022Preserving Newport's Main Street Heritage Mural
All PHOTOS this page by Beth Rexford.
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.
Mural Festival Artists on Sat. June 18th
Caitlin Mauser Rowe
Paula St. Jean
Ann St. Martin Stout
After the festival, artist Karen Little also joined the team of Reproduction artists.