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Monday, July 21, 2014

‘Dream’ becomes reality as new mural is unveiled in downtown Nashua

NASHUA – The sights and sounds of the early 20th Century returned to downtown Nashua on Sunday as a small crowd gathered to celebrate the dedication of the city’s newest outdoor mural.

“Vivian’s Dream,” which depicts life in Nashua in 1909, was rendered on the side of a building near the corner of West Pearl Street and Main Street this summer by muralist Barbara Andrews. ...

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NASHUA – The sights and sounds of the early 20th Century returned to downtown Nashua on Sunday as a small crowd gathered to celebrate the dedication of the city’s newest outdoor mural.

“Vivian’s Dream,” which depicts life in Nashua in 1909, was rendered on the side of a building near the corner of West Pearl Street and Main Street this summer by muralist Barbara Andrews.

The 1,400-square-foot piece stands as one of the city’s largest pieces of public artwork, and joins a stable of other pieces in the city created by Andrews.

Andrews put the finishing touch on the piece during Sunday’s dedication ceremony, using a hydraulic construction lift to rise about 10 feet into the air and sign her name.

“It touches everyone’s heart,” Andrews said of the historical scene, which centers around the old Tremont House hotel. “It really does. It’s not about the type of people or the culture or any of that. It’s basically the history. It used to actually be on this street.”

West Pearl Street was the center of a bustling downtown Nashua at the turn of the 20th Century. Clothing stores, hat shops, barber shops and coffee shops were prominent in what was then a predominantly Greek neighborhood.

The once-grand Tremont House hotel served locals and visitors for many years before it was torn down to make room for the Second National Bank in the 1920s. Andrews’ 35-foot by 40-foot mural recreates a postcard view of the building as it looked in 1909, when it had large columns and upper-level porches over the Main Street sidewalk.

Musicians from The Monument Square Brass in Hollis and Inside Track, a barbershop quartet affiliated with the Granite Statesmen, helped to set the scene Sunday as city officials and members of the arts community gathered to pay tribute to the new mural. The musical groups performed early 20th-
century pieces, and Nashua Historic District Commission Chairman Robert Sampson was on hand to give a history of the neighborhood.

During brief remarks, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said that Nashua recognizes the importance of a rich and vibrant arts community. The new mural joins other pieces of public art on display in the city, she said, including pieces created through Nashua’s International Sculpture Symposium.

“Downtown shows you the heart of a community,” she said. “Art shows you the soul of a community.”

The idea of bringing a new mural to the corner of West Pearl and Main streets was first discussed about four years ago by Nashua arts patron Meri Goyette and Vivian Walker, the longtime owner of Vivian’s Dress Shop in downtown Nashua.

The building on which the mural appears is owned by the Walker family, which donated funds to the initiative, and also helped to prepare the wall and install a drip edge on the roof, bumpers at the base of the wall and a lighting system to illuminate the piece at night.

“I was married to Vivian for 49 years, and that was the best thing that ever happened to me,” husband James Walker told the crowd. He recalled her acumen in the garment business, saying that Vivian was “the best business person I think ever knew.” He said the mural took inspiration from a photograph that once hung in Vivian Walker’s shop.

“I think the artist did a really good job,” he said.

Andrews, of Haverhill, Mass., has painted murals across the country, including several others in Nashua. One of her most well-known pieces in the Gate City depicts Nashua’s historic millyard on the side of Darrell’s Music Hall at the corner of Main and Water streets.

Her work also includes murals at the former Tokyo Joe’s Studios of Self Defense, Midfield Cafe, Espresso Pizza, Sky Meadow Country Club and 15 small murals and logos inside the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Nashua.

Fundraising for “Vivian’s Dream” began about one year ago, managed by City Arts Nashua. TD Bank, the business which borders the mural, and Goyette and her husband were among the major donors. More than 110 other individuals, organizations and businesses made contributions to support the project, totaling more than $30,000 in cash and in-kind donations.

Andrews spent more than 400 hours painting the mural, beginning on June 7 and finishing in mid-July. She said unpredictable weather posed the greatest challenge, since paint dries quickly in hot or windy conditions and runs in the rain.

“When you’ve got a bright wall that the sun is hitting in the morning, it glares and it dries the paint instantly, before it can even be on the wall, so we had to work on the time zone of when I could and when I couldn’t” paint, she said.

She received assistance during the final week of the project from Londonderry mural artist Matt Dean, who said he volunteered to pitch in because he was eager to learn from Andrews and help the community-minded project.

“I’m always looking to continue my craft and help out,” he said.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).