The three-part vision to revitalize the intersection of Park and North avenues with row house murals, a greener lot, and a reimagined bus stop took a big step toward realization on June 10 with a virtual community input session for the murals.
Roughly 40 residents from both sides of North Avenue attended to hear about the project from the owners of both row houses as well as the Baltimore-based project manager, Shawn James with Mural Masters, and Baltimore-native mural artist Ernest Shaw. Shaw revealed his current design for the murals and fielded questions and comments.
The theme for the murals is Unity and Community. The murals would be one cohesive painting across both row house walls on either side of Park Avenue. As Shaw explained, his murals are meant to evoke multiple layers of interpretation. In his rendering, he captured the tops of row houses in Reservoir Hill along the bottom, overlaid with images of children. A girl looks up toward a likeness of the late Madison Park resident Congressman Elijah Cummings with a rainbow behind him. Between them is a subtle design of the kola nut, a symbol of unity from West African tradition. In addition to drawing positive attention of any passersby, the murals (as more than one person attending remarked) would be uplifting to the children who walk past them on their way to Mt. Royal Elementary and Middle School.
The Bolton Hill Community Association is serving as fiscal sponsor for the project. Fundraising is underway, with a grant application submitted for a Community Arts Grant through the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts and are others being considered. Private donations can be made by selecting “Park and North Murals” here. Between grants and donations, the hope is to raise roughly $30,000 to start painting the murals by the end of the summer.
The community input session was the first of two sessions intended to give community members opportunities to provide feedback on the mural designs. Anyone can see the current design and provide input on a website devoted to the project, https://www.parkaveunity.com. Comments will be compiled until the last week in June, when Shaw will incorporate the community’s feedback into another iteration of the mural design. This next iteration will be shared at the second community input session on Wednesday, July 8 at 6 p.m. Please register in advance here if you’re interested in attending.
–David Nyweide and Chris Kingsley