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New mural could make way for more public art in Concord

  • Milestone Engineering carpenters George Bingham (top) and Brian Audet install panels of a mural on North Main Street in downtown Concord on Friday. The artwork was created by local teens as part of the Haley Rae Martin Mural Project. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Bingham paints over screws during the installation of a mural on North Main Street on Friday. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • The newly installed mural outside CVS on North Main Street in Downtown Concord could be the first of many pieces of art to grace the city. JENNIFER MELI / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Thursday, the side of the building was just chipped gray paint.
   On Friday, the wall was a 12-by-24 explosion of color.

Through a scholarship program at Kimball-Jenkins Estate, seven teenage students spent months working on a massive mural for the side of the CVS building at 46 N. Main St. The final product depicts a globe cradled in a pair of hands – one white, one black. Trees frame the image, symbolizing growth.

“I think with the redesign of Concord’s Main Street, it adds to the fresh look,” artist Amanda Nahodil, 18, said.

She’s not the only one who thinks so.

For months, a Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce committee has been researching and brainstorming a plan to incorporate more public art into the new Main Street. Approved last month, the fiscal year 2017 budget included $2,000 for public art in the downtown core. So the new mural could be the first of many new pieces in the center of Concord.

“It just enhances the street, and it enhances people’s appreciation for the arts,” local attorney Bob Carey, a member of the Creative Concord Committee, said. “It makes for a more interesting experience and a more interesting place to live.”

City Manager Tom Aspell said that money will likely allow Concord to lease one or two sculptures for display by this fall. The city will work with Pam Tarbell, who owns Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden, to find those pieces.

“There are lots of different things they can do,” she said. “They can commission something. They can buy something outright. They could have temporary pieces.”

The city identified about 10 spots near Main Street for public art – anything from performances to murals to sculptures. While the budget is small now, Aspell said he sees the $2,000 as “seed money.”

“What I’d like to see is more private dollars invested in this too, whether from the artists or from property and business owners,” Aspell said.

The Kimball-Jenkins Estate is the first of those private partners to get involved. The artwork in Phenix Avenue is the product of the Haley Rae Martin Mural Project, which is sponsored by BAE Systems and the Martin family. The family has funded scholarships to the art school in memory of their teenage daughter, whose silouette is painted in the bottom right corner of the mural.

The couple said their daughter would have been thrilled to see a colorful mural splashed on a public building. The funding is already in place for another year of the program, and Executive Director Ryan Linehan said he is searching for a location for the next mural.

“These are all her favorite colors,” Holly Martin said. “She’s smiling.”

Concord Mayor Jim Bouley made small talk with the young artists, shaking their hands and asking about the work.

“You know how long it’s going to be up there?” he said to them. “A long time.”

Moving in

The former French’s Toy Shop will soon become a store for antiques and other home furnishings.

Dana Merrill and his sister Catherine Sweeney plan to open Whims at 10 N. State St. in Concord later this month.

“We want everyone to be able to shop here,” Merrill said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

Merrill recently came to New Hampshire from Ohio to open the business with his sister, who will handle inventory of jewelry and other consignment pieces.

They’ll see new and antique furniture, high-end consignment, artwork, home accessories, jewelry and other goods. The price range will vary; trinkets, like the salt-and-pepper shakers shaped like shoes, will be less expensive than the dining room or bedroom sets. He gestured to art of different styles, hung on the walls above tables and chairs.

Merrill hoped the shop could also be a source for gifts for anyone from a spouse to a child; he’ll also sell gift “grab bags” for last-minute shoppers. He has worked in antiques for more than two decades, but he predicted Whims will be different than other antique stores in the area.

“I hope this will fill a void,” he said.

For decades, the storefront at the intersection of North State and Warren streets sold children’s toys. The business changed hands and names several times, but was perhaps best known as French’s Toy Shop. The last owner left town in late 2013. In 2014, a neighboring tattoo parlor expanded into the corner store, but it has been vacant for months.

Merrill said the target opening date for Whims is July 18. The store will eventually have a website and a Facebook page.

Pounding the pavement

Road work on the east side of South Main Street will wrap up soon.

Today, crews will be grinding up the top layer of pavement on Pleasant Street Extension and both sides of South Main Street. While drivers will be able to access these roads, lane shifts will be in effect. No on-street parking will be available in this area until Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, paving will begin on both sides of the street. This work will begin at 7 a.m. and may not be completed until 7 p.m. Motorists and delivery vehicles will not be allowed to drive on the fresh pavement, so driveways and parking lots on South Main Street and Pleasant Street Extension will be affected. The parking lot for Concord Food Co-op customers, however, will be accessible all day. In an email update, the project PR team encouraged motorists to seek alternate routes.

On Friday, crews will stripe the newly paved areas, which could affect parking. This week’s schedule is weather dependent.

Elsewhere on Main Street, conduit for underground utilities will be installed near Theatre Street and Hills Avenue.

By July 18, the project will flip to the west side of Main Street from Pleasant Street to Concord Street. The road will be closed to southbound traffic; northbound traffic will be able to proceed.

For more information or to sign up for regular email updates about the downtown construction, visit concordmainstreetproject.com.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321, mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)