This small NH town is looking for artists

WARNER – When you think of this picturesque New England town, what come to mind? Stately Mount Kearsarge? The six local museums? The aged old Fellows building, now being renovated and restored? Or the nation’s first ski trains that came up from Boston in the early 20th century?

Whatever it is, it could one day become part of a large public mural painting that will be displayed on a prominent wall in the downtown area.

The idea for the mural commemorating Warner’s history has been advanced by the Warner Historical Society and the town’s economic development advisory committee. The groups are currently soliciting proposals from New Hampshire artists to have the project completed and debuted at the annual Warner Fall Foliage Festival in October 2020. The organizations announced the project shortly before this year’s event, posting details at the society’s website, www.warnerhistorical.org/mural.html

The chairman of the advisory committee said the idea came up about a year ago as his group was thinking about ways of encouraging economic activity in Warner while the historical society was looking for ways to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the town’s founding, which is coming up in 2024. “We want to share what we have with visitors,” said Charlie Albano, at least in part because tourisms bring money into town without adding significantly to municipal costs.

“We have the five museums and our two covered bridges, and there are people who will come out just to see a covered bridge,” he said. In the same way, there are “fans” of large town murals who would gladly visit a charming rural community like Warner just to see one.

The two town groups decided on placing the mural on the exterior wall of the building at 2 East Main Street, where The Local restaurant and several other businesses are currently located. The outside wall space, which is approximately 50-feet by 12-feet, is clearly visible to people traveling into the downtown from a westerly direction Route 103. Longtime Warner residents Rhonda Rood and Bob Egan, who own the building, agreed to the idea.

The new mural will not actually be painted on to the wall, Albano explained. “That cement surface, the cinder blocks texture, will not hold the (colors) very well,” he said.

Instead, the mural will be painted on six carbon-fiber panels that will hang next to one another and attached to the wall with strong construction materials. The mural materials will resist color change and allow it to last for up to 25 years, Albano said.

 

 

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The historical society’s website has a Request for Proposal application for artists, and, at this time, has restricted application to New Hampshire artists only. The idea is to have all artists’ information submitted by March 1. Then a seven-member committee of local business owners, society members, town officials and a local artist will begin a process of choosing appropriate applicants. The committee will then ask a handful of applicants to submit a more detailed proposal and a winner will be selected by June 15. The goal is to complete the mural project by October 1, 2020, just as next year’s Warner Fall Foliage Festival is preparing to kickoff.

Albano said that the mural project is estimated to cost about $10,000, including all equipment and contingency costs. Members of the economic advisory group are talking with local businesses for sponsorship support, and some grant money may also be available.

For more information about the project, check out the historical society’s website or send an email message to emmabatesvac@gmail.com

This story first appeared in the InterTown Record weekly newspaper of Sutton, New Hampshire, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.

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