An upcoming “Greetings from Westbrook” mural project in downtown Main Street will celebrate the city’s history – and will almost certainly be noticed by passing drivers.
Well-known aerosol artist Mike Rich, who is recognized for creating the “Greetings from Portland” mural in downtown Portland, has been commissioned by Westbrook Arts & Culture to create the Westbrook-themed mural.
Next week, Rich will begin work along the brick facade at Greater Portland School of Jukado, 821 Main St., facing a small public park area.
Andy Curran, a member of Westbrook Arts & Culture who is organizing the project, said the nonprofit had been discussing a mural or public art project for some time. The river-themed “Art All Around” project by the Maine Center for Creativity in Blue Note Park was largely deemed a success earlier this year, and public art is routinely cited as a necessary component of downtown revitalization.
“We’re really excited to be commissioning a professional artist to put up a new icon in Westbrook,” Curran said.
Curran said Rich has been customizing the iconic, postcard-inspired “Greetings” design for Westbrook, and will fill in each large letter with imagery from Westbrook’s history, including people and buildings.
Rich said Tuesday that he’s still finishing up the design, but has tentative ideas for including Wessie (the snake) in the “W,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the “T” (co-created by Westbrook native Kevin Eastman) and the Black Bridge in the “B.” He’ll also be putting together a letter for Westbrook musicians, as well as letters for other city landscapes.
“It’s a big wall,” he said, adding that it’s one of the largest projects he’s done. “I can’t wait to paint it. It’ll be a big difference, and I think the people of Westbrook will like it.”
The “Greetings from Portland” mural, on a large brick wall at Asylum on Free Street, was recently razed as part of the club’s renovation and expansion project. Aerosol art is also commonly known as graffiti art. Rich created the Portland project with the help of eight other artists. In Westbrook, he’ll be doing it alone.
Rich said mural projects help to revitalize cities.
“It adds character,” he said.
Curran described Rich as the “foremost aerosol artist in the state of Maine.” Funding for the mural was put together by Westbrook Arts & Culture, and came from a combination of local businesses.
The project will also be marked by some events, where residents can watch the spray-painted mural unfold. On Saturday, Oct. 15, Curran said, the organization is hoping to have music and food trucks on site. The next weekend, Oct. 22, Rich should be finishing the mural during “Wessie Fest,” where other events will coincide.
Curran said he’s hoping the project will entice some commuter traffic to stop and take a look, and maybe stick around.
Mike Rich, the artist behind the recently razed “Greetings from Portland” mural on the corner of Free and Central streets in Portland, will begin work on a similar mural project in Westbrook on Oct. 13. It will be painted on the brick wall on the eastern side of Greater Portland School of Jukado, below.
‘Books in the ‘Brook’ returns
“Books in the ‘Brook,” a monthly celebration of Westbrook’s burgeoning writers’ scene, returns in October for its second season at Continuum for Creativity. The season’s first event, on Saturday, Oct. 8, starting at 4 p.m., will continue to showcase the area’s thriving pocket of thriller writers, with award-winning writer Chris Holm of Portland reading from his new novel, “Red Right Hand.” Also reading is well-known poet Alice Persons, the publisher of Moon Pie Press in Westbrook.
Continuum for Creativity, at 863 Main St., has quickly become a center for the arts in downtown Westbrook, with art exhibits, book readings, painting and writing workshops, music and other events.
Mary Brooking, a Westbrook artist and director of Continuum, said this week that she’s looking forward to another season of Books in the ‘Brook, which she said was a surprise hit from last year.
“We definitely do have a surprising number of authors living and working in and around Westbrook – a testament to the fact that we live in an inspiring place, where the arts are nourished and respected,” she said.
The monthly event is designed to represent a broad spectrum of genres, including thriller, mystery, humor, historical fiction, and poetry.
Over the past few years, Westbrook’s base of working authors has expanded, especially in the crime-thriller genre. Saturday’s event will be hosted by two such authors – Brenda Buchanan and Brendan Rielly – as well as author Laura Kilmartin.
According to Brooking, hosts quickly provide introductions and give the floor over to the authors for readings and question-and-answer sessions.
“It’s a great event to discover great reading options, meet authors and find out how they create their works, and buy books and have them signed,” she said.
Holm’s novel, “Red Right Hand,” is the second in his Michael Hendricks series. He’s also well-known for his “Collector” trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy. Persons’ poetry, and work published by Moon Pie Press, has routinely been well-received nationally. Eight of her poems have been featured on “The Writer’s Almanac” on National Public Radio.
Westbrook author Laura Kilmartin, pictured here during a previous event, will host “Books in the ‘Brook” on Saturday, Oct. 8 from 4-5 p.m. at Continuum for Creativity, 863 Main St.
October arts briefs:
‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’
Portland Ballet is opening its 2016-17 season will the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” with two shows at the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $30, $10 for kids. Tickets are available at www.portlandballet.com.
Bruce Robert Coffin will discuss and read from his book detective movel, “Among the Shadows,” on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 5:30-7 p.m., at the library, 800 Main St. Coffin is a former detective sergeant with more than 27 years in law enforcement.
Anne O’Regan will discuss recent works on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 5:30-7 p.m. O’Regan’s book, “Tamed,” is an intimate portrayal of one woman’s journey through myriad internal and external landscapes while backpacking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
The library will host a Charlie Brown Halloween movie party on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
For more on goings-on at the library, see www.walker.lib.me.us.
Two Halloween events will coincide on Friday, Oct. 28, including the return of longtime favorite Halloween on Main Street, organized by the Westbrook-Gorham Community Chamber. The event will close a large portion of Main Street from 4:30-6 p.m., opening it up to trick or treating and other events. Coinciding is the second “Pumpkins in the Park,” which this year will take place in Blue Note Park.
More at Continuum
The last day to see the work created during the second annual Paint Westbrook plein-air event is Saturday, Oct. 8. The next workshop at Continuum kicks off Oct. 15, a hybrid writing and painting workshop titled “The Landscape of Memoir.” It takes place over three Saturdays. For details, go to facebook.com/ContinuumForCreativity.
Call for artists
Westbrook Arts & Culture is working to put together a list of all artists working in Westbrook. The organization is asking that all artists contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Brooking’s painting “Old and New,” created during the 2nd annual Paint Westbrook event on Sept. 10. The Paint Westbrook exhibit is still on view at Continuum for Creativity through Oct. 8.