BERLIN — The worn mural at Stephen Decatur Park will be getting a facelift next year when the town replaces it with a design comprised of multiple pictures chosen through a high school contest.
“Rather than try to design an entire mural, we’ll take winning pieces and incorporate it into a mural,” said Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.
The current mural, which covers the side wall of the racquetball court at Decatur Park, is more than two decades old and showing its age.
“It has just deteriorated. It has been up for a very long time,” said Bohlen. “I don’t know exactly when it was originally painted, but I know that it has been there for as long as I’ve been here so that’s over 20 years.”
The original mural had been designed by area high school students and the town Parks Commission felt that it would be fair to host a contest for high school students to select the new mural. Instead of one large picture, however, the new design will consist of an as yet unknown number of individual winning submissions from students.
“They will create a piece of art work: a painting, a drawing. However they do it obviously it has to be something that can be painted on the wall,” Bohlen told the council.
Once winners are selected by an independent panel of judges a muralist will be brought in to facilitate the actual paint on concrete portion.
“We’ve spoken with the Worcester County Arts Council and they’re willing to work with us as far as supplies go once we get to that point as well as to help us locate a muralist who will pull it all together,” Bohlen said.
Volunteers will then be sought to help put the design onto the wall, which will be an endeavor as the current mural stretches roughly the length of two tennis courts. The new work will completely replace the old picture, or as Mayor Gee Williams puts it, will “wipe the slate clean.”
Further details on the contest will be released by the town over the summer and fall. The deadline for entries is well in the future, Dec. 2. After entries have been judged and the winners selected, Bohlen expects actual brushwork to begin next spring. As the contest progresses, she added that the town will try to pair it with other art events.
“At one point, we do hope to actually incorporate it into the Second Friday Art Stroll and perhaps give the visitors an opportunity to pass their vote once we get it down to a small number,” Bohlen said.
The council, with Councilman Elroy Brittingham absent, unanimously approved replacing the old mural with the Parks Commission suggestion.