From Eyesore To Artwork In Londonderry

Mar 20, 2014

retaining wall near the intersection of Routes 100 and 11 in Londonderry has been getting a lot of attention lately. Local artists recently painted the wall, covering up some unsightly graffiti. But that's considered an interim step, with a more collaborative project to come this spring.

The long term vision is for local artists, including art students at Flood Brook School, to design different murals to be painted here as needed, much like a collective Londonderry family refrigerator with ever-changing creative displays.

The wall is in front of the parking area to the New England Shoe Barn, and it is referred to as the "Shoe Barn Wall." Beautifying the wall has been a complicated effort, involving the town select board and planning commission, private business, students, local artists and the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Since the wall is located in the state right-of-way, VTrans had to sign off on the project as well as local authorities. And, according to an article on the Town of Londonderry website, local officials are expecting it to be an ongoing project:

The Town’s intention is to work with VTrans to keep this highly visible spot looking cared for, even in its poor condition. Since the Shoe Barn’s concrete wall is located within the state highway right-of-way and highly susceptible to the elements, periodic repainting will help accomplish this goal. The long term vision is for local artists, including art students at Flood Brook School, to design different murals to be painted here as needed, much like a collective Londonderry family refrigerator with ever-changing creative displays.

The original plan was to have art students at Flood Brook School design a mural to be painted in the fall but, as it turned out, the students' design wouldn't be ready until later this year. So, according to the article, the town decided to put up an interim painting.

When the Town learned that the Flood Brook art students’ design could not be ready before spring-summer 2014, local artists Garrison and Alison Buxton & Jaime Townsend volunteered to clean up and paint over the graffiti in the interest of getting the project underway. The Select Board reviewed and approved their proposal to be submitted with the necessary VTrans permit application. As soon as the state permit was processed in late November, the artists began work. Despite some adverse winter weather conditions that delayed and complicated the painting process, the artists completed the project in about 50 hours with the help of the Londonderry road crew to maintain safe working conditions.

Students are now working on a new mural design, to be approved by the Londonderry Select Board, VTrans, and various project funders. Once that occurs, volunteers will paint the new mural in place. The goal is to have the project complete in May.