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Beyond Walls murals return to downtown Lynn

Artist Kevin Ledo, center, works with Lynn youth from the Demakes Family YMCA to put the finishing touches on the mural he created on Central Avenue commissioned by Beyond Walls in July 2021. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNN — Downtown is getting some new additions to its growing collection of street art.

Beyond Walls has been installing street art in Lynn for six years and has more than 80 pieces of large-scale street art, created by nearly 100 different artists in Lynn alone, with other works completed in gateway cities like Lowell, Holyoke, and Fall River.

This month, the organization will commission new artworks in several locations in the city along with running tours and events as part of a four-mouth Street Art Tour to create dozens of murals in Holyoke, Chicopee, Lynn, and Haverhill.

Al Wilson, founder and executive director of Beyond Walls, said Lynn is welcoming some of the best artists in the world.

Among the announced projects is a mural project at 87 Oxford St. by Ernesto Maranje, who has done nature-themed impressionistic murals all over the globe, including in Lebanon, Spain, and Ukraine.

“Ernesto is just a fantastic Cuban artist, up there with the best in the world for sure,” Wilson said. “He does this layered petals approach. It’s like impressionistic with flowers, is how I would describe it.”

Another mural will be created by artists Kevin Ledo and Samantha Robison, who are doing workshops and collaborating with Girls Inc. on the creation of a mural on 75 Silsbee St. 

“The work is all on sustainability,” Wilson said. “It involves workshops with Girls Inc., an awful lot of planning with them and messaging about what their mural is going to be.”

Ledo previously teamed up with Beyond Walls to paint the mural “Resonate” at 78 Central Ave.

According to Wilson, one of the largest parts of Beyond Walls’ work is getting youth involved with art education and workshops, as well as providing opportunities for them to work hands-on with world-class artists.

Wilson said there are more projects planned in the city that will be announced later, including work by sculptor and muralist Hanimal.

Beyond Walls will host multiple events in the city as artists get to work on the murals this week.

On Saturday, Aug. 19 at 10 a.m., Beyond Walls will partner with United Rentals for Trash Bags on the Streets event, in which volunteers will collect trash downtown and appreciate street art before a barbecue at Beyond Walls Studio at 18 Mount Vernon St.

Two more art tours and events will take place on Thursday, Aug. 24 at 6 p.m., featuring Maranje, Ledo, and Robison, and on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m.

Wilson said community members can keep up with the events on Beyond Walls’ social-media pages.

Beyond Walls is supported by the local business community and art organizations, as well as federal and state funding.

Wilson said despite all the work Beyond Walls has done in Lynn, a priority of the organization is to make sure city tax dollars are being used where they are needed most.

“We have deliberately not taken local dollars from Lynn,” Wilson said. “There’s just so much need here.”

Mayor Jared Nicholson voiced his support for Beyond Walls’ work in the city.

“Public art is a significant part of our city,” Nicholson said. “We’re excited to see the installation of these new murals and we welcome everyone to join Beyond Walls this month in celebrating the talents of these artists and the vibrancy they bring to our community.”

Wilson noted the unique nature of street art as something that is accessible for all in the community to enjoy.

“There’s no barrier to entry for this art, there’s no cost of entry or rules of engagement on how to take it in,” Wilson said. “Art is subjective. If this piece doesn’t appeal to you, the great thing here in Lynn is there’s another piece just behind it.”

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