On June 23, an overcast morning with the threat of rain greeted children, teens and parents who convened at Bombardier Park with paintbrushes to join an effort to beautify the town with public art.
Muralist Jon Young led the charge, painting the outlines of seven murals on the park’s dugouts and labeling them in a paint-by-number fashion. Funded by a state grant, the project was overseen by artists from the Milton Artists’ Guild.
“There’s a lot of people who come to the gallery but can’t afford a nice, big painting,” guild president Gisela Alpert said. “This is a way of giving back to the community.”
Alpert said allowing Miltonians to join in gave them “right to ownership” of the works. The images, selected by the town and MAG, represented all aspects of living in Milton, Young said.
“The original design was Milton Little League logos and things like that, but I think they wanted to be more inclusive of everyone in town,” he said.
Jessica Ochs of Milton and her sons Drew, 6, and William, 4, attended the event to celebrate their love of painting and allow the boys to partake in a community project.
“Art brings people together,” Ochs said. “It is a thing that has existed since time, and it is something that all cultures have.”
Ochs is a music teacher and an advocate for the arts: “I think it is something we need more of in society,” she said.
Despite the youthfulness of the families painting, Alpert said with Young and the other artists’ oversight, the MAG hoped to “achieve a really professional look.”
The murals included a wintry scene with a bright red cardinal, a forest of white birch trees, two holding hands, an ode to sports, a large monarch butterfly and the American flag. Young will be painting an additional mural in the park at a later date, according to Alpert.
To allow toddlers a chance to create, Alpert and Colette Wilson, an educator whose role supports the town’s Promise Community initiative, set up mini-canvases on which the children used brushes, hands and feet to create masterpieces.
Cathy LaClair, a MAG director and jeweler by trade, said she was happy to instruct painters at the flag mural station.
“We’re trying to grow art and appreciation of art and family around art,” she reflected as she looked on at the little painters. Nearby, a young boy dipped his brush into tomato-red paint and swept it back and forth on the ground-level stripe of the flag.
Young was selected to lead the project for his talent and experience, Alpert said. Young began drawing and painting as a child and has created other public murals in the area.
“I’ve always loved it,” he said. “I had encouragement from teachers, which helped.”
He added he particularly enjoys murals because they are accessible to everyone.
“They’re not in a gallery or someone’s home; it’s out there for everybody to enjoy,” Young said.
He hoped the event provided families a fun and welcoming environment to enjoy creating art.
“It’s fun to paint, but it’s kind of daunting sometimes,” he said. “To come and have something ready to go [at the dugouts], it’s easy to jump into, and it’s real fun once you get your hands in the paint.”
Nate Carner of Milton stood with his 3-year-old daughter, Lucille, and smiled at their work. The duo had collaborated on the cardinal scene, dabbing whites, blues and reds on the cinderblock canvas.
“It’s going to look amazing here,” he said.
Photos by Ethan Rogati.