A brush of gratitude; downtown business donates wall for new mural

NASHUA – Sparked by last Thanksgiving season’s attitude of gratefulness, a movement is underway for a new piece of public art on the theme of gratitude and community goodwill.

Positive Street Art is looking for public input for its new "Gratitude Mural" to go on an exterior wall along Main Street in Nashua.

"It started out in the fall. I had met with some educators who were telling me they noticed how differently people were treating one another," said Yvonne Dunetz, who is working with urban artist Cecilia Ulibari, of PSA, to raise money and bring attention to the planned work.

Other similar grass-roots thankfulness projects sprang up in city schools that provided fuel for the downtown project.

"I immediately went to Cecilia and mentioned to her that I thought it would be wonderful and uniting for our community to have a gratitude wall," Dunetz said.

She said the idea behind the mural is "to represent that each and every day, we have something to be thankful for."

"When we come from a place of gratitude, we come from a place of love and compassion and understanding," Dunetz said.

The group has since reached out to area businesses, organizations and schools to gather input in the form of personal expressions of gratitude to be included in the piece.

Several businesses have boxes for people to place slips of paper with personal examples of what they are grateful for, which may be included in the finished painting.

The mural will be painted along a 100-foot-long, 14-foot-high exterior wall of PRG on Main Street. Ulibari hopes to get started preparing and priming the wall in March. Dunetz said an unveiling is planned for 6 p.m. June 8.

"The Mahfuz family was very gracious in donating their wall," Dunetz said.

"My son Fouad started the ball rolling on this with Yvonne Dunetz and Positive Street Art," said Sy Mahfuz, of PRG.

Impressed by the work done on the Chase Building nearby, the group’s latest public piece of art, Mahfuz said, "This wall will be every bit of that. I just think it’s a phenomenal project."

The Chase Building’s mural celebrates the time the building was home to one of several downtown movie theaters. The sprawling mural, painted by Manny Ramirez, of PSA, depicts scenes of various classic movies.

"What I really want to have resonate is that we celebrate gratitude every day, not just during the holidays, and I wanted that depicted in the mural," artist Cecilia Ulibari said.

The concept is particularly meaningful to Ulibari, one of the founders of the urban arts group.

"It’s a very positive project that emulates the Positive Street Art attitude," she said.

Downtown merchants since Sy’s father came to Nashua in 1953, Mahfuz said the mural’s message is "consistent with how grateful we are for moving to this great community that embraced him, and that he embraced."

The total projected cost of the mural is $10,000, Dunetz said. The cost includes a lighting package that will allow the art to be seen at night.

Collection boxes to gather notes of gratitude will be available until Feb. 27.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DonH.