Disclosure: LynnHappens editor Seth Albaum is volunteering as a downtown resident for Beyond Walls. This is as much an appeal as it is an effort to inform.
First, the video:
Beyond Walls is a group of community partners, downtown residents and business owners organized by Al Wilson and Amanda Hill, seeking funds for a placemaking project in downtown Lynn featuring public art and lighting installations. MassDevelopment has offered a Commonwealth Places grant, contributing $50,000 to the project if Beyond Walls meets a fundraising target of $50,000 in 60 days.
A kick-off event and fundraising party with food and music will be held Thursday, April 6th from 6pm to 10pm at the Lynn Museum, 590 Washington Street. Numerous Lynn eateries have donated food to the party and Bent Water Brewing Company is providing the suds, Short Path Distillery of Everett the hard stuff. There is no admission fee, but donations are strongly encouraged!
Beyond Wall’s placemaking project plans include:
- 10 Walls with murals done by internationally-renown and local artists.
- 12 Pieces of vintage neon signs installed.
- Dynamic LED Lighting under Central Square, Washington Street and Market Street MBTA overpasses.
- An installation/sculpture that includes a real GE IA Engine, the first jet engine made in the United States, here in Lynn. (The engine was donated to the project in December.)
When Marblehead resident Al Wilson visited the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood on a work trip a few years ago, he was blown away by murals on some of the old warehouse buildings, and the way in which the Wynwood Walls project brought pedestrians and associated street life – cafes, restaurants and more to what had been considered a derelict warehouse district.
“From the moment I saw Wynwood, I’ve been thinking of Lynn.” – Al Wilson
On Monday morning, Al Wilson and Amanda Hill of Beyond Walls sat down with members of the Essex Media Group (incl. Item, La Voz), the Lynn Journal and LynnHappens in Essex Media’s conference room on Munroe Street.
“It quickly went from a city block, to two city blocks, to four city blocks – to eight city blocks of art.” observed Wilson. Artists who didn’t quite make the cut for the initial walls appealed to nearby property owners to use their walls, and the neighborhood became a destination.
Unlike a warehouse district, downtown Lynn is already occupied with businesses, restaurants, cafes, residents, offices, non-profits and active churches. However, in a survey taken at a meeting held last year at the Lynn Museum by *Mass Development about what people would like to see downtown, the most popular response was, “Encourage Businesses to Activate the Sidewalks & Stay Open Later.” Number two was, “Create a True Downtown grid.” Number three was, “Integrate Lighting Under the T.”
One business in downtown already keeping the lights on later, in order to host Beyond Walls meetings, is Pick Up Modern & More on Exchange Street, owned by Laurence Howard. Subcommittees frequently meet during the day at Land of a Thousand Hills on Munroe Street and White Rose Coffeehouse in Central Square, all businesses that can benefit from the increase in foot traffic a successful placemaking effort can bring to the area.
Sixty-three walls have been photographed in downtown Lynn as potential spots for murals, and from those, ten will be selected. Property owners would naturally have to offer their walls, and artists would be given room, board, food and materials such as paints, brushes, drop cloths etc. from the Beyond Walls project budget. The artist selection process aims to mirror the demographics of downtown Lynn.
Amanda Hill, a Raw Art Works employee who is donating her spare time to the project, says placemaking is also about “…bringing the community together.”
Elected officials supporting the project include State Senator McGee, Congressman Moulton, State, Representatives Crighton and Cahill, and Mayor Kennedy. Required permissions from the city, MBTA and related agencies have been obtained. Partners on the project include Lynn’s Neighborhood Development Associates, Inc. (NDA), Payette, LAM Partners, Mass Development/TDI, and there’s a pro-bono legal team affectionately known as the “No Fun Committee.” Beyond Walls would also like to thank the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation for its generous contribution towards the project.
Al Wilson will talk about Beyond Walls 7pm tonight, March 23rd, 2017 at Trio’s, 70 Market Street, during the Downtown Lynn Neighborhood Association’s monthly Neighborhood Night (4th Thursdays at rotating locations downtown).