(This story was written by Andrew Mansfield and appeared in The Gardner News) People will soon be able to take a trip across the whole city simply by walking along the West Street Parking Lot.
Past and present Mount Wachusett Community College students have been working on a mural on the rear wall of the parking lot for the past month or so.
Along the wall, the mural transitions from paintings of several different city scenes, such as the downtown skyline, Dunn Pond and City Hall.
Several local artists, led by Ben Mikels, went back to work for another session of painting on Friday.
“Every time I come and see more stuff done, I get excited,” he said. “The Mount loves getting involved with the city.”
The West Street Parking Lot is located across the street from the Gardner Ale House on Parker Street. Joining Mikels to work on the project Friday were artists Camilo Almarales, Kayla Rameau and Corinne Goodrich.
They have all been art students at the college. Mikels, Goodrich and Rameau have graduated and Almarales is still attending.
Other past or present students have been working on the project when they can as well. Mikels indicated work on the mural has taken place for about a month now.
The project also includes painting the electric boxes that service traffic lights at intersections throughout the city.
The weather and availability of the painters are factors in the timeline for when the overall work will conclude, but it is slated to wrap up over the summer.
The city and Mount Wachusett Community College have partnered on public art projects over the last several years. One recent example is the mural at Jackson Playground.
Community Development and Planning Assistant Director Joshua Cormier has been coordinating the projects on the city side.
“The reasons we’re doing this is we have all these blank canvases, so to speak, just sitting there,” he said. “It’s to give visitors and residents an uplifting view.”
With the West Street Parking Lot mural, he said the idea is that each image of the city is like a large-scale postcard.
Residents or visitors can take photos standing in front of the mural.
Cormier said the mural will also include some symbols of local businesses. In addition to the creative look and beautification the mural provides, it helps market what the city has to offer.
Cormier explained the city provides funding for the supplies needed, indicating this project is costing the city a few thousand dollars.
“We’re investing a little bit of money and they’re investing a lot of time,” he said.
The student artists gave credit to Mount Wachusett Community College Professor Thomas Matsuda, the chairman of the Art Department, for his role in organizing these projects with the city.
“He pretty consistently pushes kids to do stuff in the community,” Rameau said.
The projects have provided students with a chance to have their artwork become a permanent fixture in the local scene, an opportunity the students at West Street Parking Lot on Friday seemed happy to partake in.