New mural blankets Easthampton Feed building along city’s rail trail
EASTHAMPTON — Cyclists and pedestrians on the Manhan Rail Trail will soon be greeted by a new mural on the back of the Easthampton Feed building.
The mural, which is currently being painted by Springfield artist Priya Green, combines vertical forms with floral imagery and covers the expanse of the Mechanic Street building’s back wall.
The city’s Cultural Council commissioned Green to paint the mural using state-allocated funds and donations from local businesses after community surveys indicated that residents wanted to see more public art displays.
“There is certainly a call for accessible public art,” said Rachel Phillips, chairwoman of the Easthampton Cultural Council, “and especially during COVID, things that are outside, so it made sense in many ways to see if we could be part of creating a mural.”
Phillips and volunteers helped with the basic color blocking, and Green will complete the rest of the detail work by the end of the month.
“I hope that people will find it as a joyful breath of fresh air, especially those that discover it on the bike path,” Green said. “Because of how the building is situated on the path, it can be discovered as a sudden, happy surprise on the rail trail.”
Green has shown her work in venues such as the University Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Jersey City Museum and the Cuchifritos Gallery in New York City. She and her husband, Andrae Green, also painted the Taylor Street parking garage in Springfield, a mural on the Bay Path University Student Commons and led a mural painting on the Bing Arts Center in Springfield.
Green’s latest mural, titled “Bloom,” seemed an appropriate fit for the Easthampton Feed building with its floral imagery, she said, given that the building houses a farm and garden supply store.
Phillips spoke with several business owners before finalizing the mural’s location with David Stauffer, manager of Easthampton Feed. The building was ideal for its location along the rail trail, Phillips said, and also because it is made out of metal, which is a first choice for many mural artists because, unlike brick, it will not absorb the paint.
Stauffer also paid to expand the mural beyond its originally planned size, Phillips said. Rather than just a portion of the building surface, the mural will cover the entire wall facing the rail trail, which is about 55 feet wide by 20 feet high for a surface area of around 1,100 square feet.
“I don’t think we imagined the entire building being painted, and here we are,” she said. “It turned out Dave Stauffer wanted to see it bigger, and this was a delightful surprise to me.”
Two other local businesses also helped to make the mural possible. Fleury Lumber Company donated more than $3,000 worth of paint for the mural, and Taylor Real Estate provided a cash donation to reinvigorate the surface of the old building.
“The building has been here for a very long time,” Phillips said, “so we’re very excited to bring it into a new life, give it another life here with public art.”
Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.