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New murals populate Thayer Street

Business Improvement District, Wheeler School introduce art series on College Hill

In an effort to bring more art to Thayer Street, The Wheeler School is working with Thayer Street District Management Authority to create a series of murals along the street.

One mural in the series ­— which depicts a figure painting a scene inspired by Claude Monet’s work — is currently being painted on the side of the Metro Mart across from La Creperie, said Robert Martin, head of Wheeler’s visual arts department.

The Authority, which manages and maintains the Thayer Street District, approached The Wheeler School last winter to forge “a relationship with them to create a mural per year,” Martin said. “We just thought it was a nice way of getting the Wheeler community and our arts program out into the public.”

Students of all ages from The Wheeler School have been working on the latest mural since late October, said Donna Personeus, the Authority’s executive director. Martin hopes the mural will be completed before Thanksgiving break.

The mural has a distinctly French theme due to its proximity to La Creperie, Martin said. Since patrons will see the mural from La Creperie, “we wanted to make sure that they were happy with what the design was going to be,” Personeus said. The exact design of the mural will officially be revealed in a press release that will accompany a ribbon cutting, she added. The date of the ribbon cutting is unknown at this time, and the Authority does not yet know how many more murals will be in the series.

Early this past summer, The Wheeler School completed its first public mural in conjunction with the Authority, entitled “Urban Coyote.” This mural is located on the side of Sneaker Junkies at 290 Thayer Street. The Authority is responsible for selecting the mural locations, but The Wheeler School has “some leeway with regard to subject matter,” Martin said. For instance, “the coyote was chosen as a bridge between our environmental science program and our arts program,” he explained.

“Wheeler is a pleasure to work with,” Personeus said. “I love the fact that the kids who are right down the street are involved and that they have touched their street in two locations.”

Students are not the only ones working on the murals. “It’s really a Wheeler community project,” Martin said. “We have everybody from faculty and alumni to almost every range of the school from kindergarten … up through high school” working on the murals.

Feedback about the mural-painting experience has “all been pretty positive,” Martin added. “The younger kids, especially, really enjoy coming over and being a part of a much bigger project.” Painting the murals has also been a great experience for some of the older kids “who wouldn’t define themselves as painters or artists,” Martin said.

Personeus also added that while local businesses “did not ask for the art, we worked with the property owners” to choose mural locations. Roshan Baral, who has owned the Metro Mart convenience store on Thayer Street for the past 10 years, was not contacted about the mural prior to its creation, but he is pleased with its development. “If they can do (murals) all over the street, … (it would) make the street nicer,” Baral said. In addition to beautifying the neighborhood, the murals will help to prevent graffiti, he added.

The mural series primarily aims to increase the presence of local art on Thayer Street. Along with the murals, Personeus said that the Authority is working to support community building and artistic endeavors through events such music series and visits from Santa on Thayer Street.

In the future, the Authority hopes to collaborate with CVS “to either repair or replace the mural on the side of their wall.” Additionally, Personeus and the Authority look forward to further collaboration with Wheeler and have “many more plans” to bring art to Thayer Street.


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