Muralist to transform concrete of downtown median into a Manchester landmark

New Hampshire Union Leader
August 08. 2018 10:21AM
Artist Keith Trahan stands in Manchester on Tuesday on the Canal Street median strip on which he will paint a mural for Intown Manchester. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Hoping to lure Millyard workers out of their cubicles and into downtown shops and eateries, downtown boosters have commissioned a muralist to transform the drab concrete of a raised median on Canal Street into a multi-colored entrance to downtown.

Organizers say they hope the vibrant colors will bridge the psychological barrier between the two prominent areas of the city’s core — the high-tech oriented Millyard and the traditional downtown.

“My idea is to paint this little, invisible barrier,” said Keith Trahan, the abstract artist selected to do the work. Trahan said work on the median could start as early as this week, but the heavy rains of last week did set the project back some.

The work is slated for the raised median in front of the Wall Street Tower Apartments, according to Sara Beaudry, executive director of Intown Manchester. A rendition shows angular shapes of cherry red, searing orange, neon green, white and black. Trahan, who is 37, said the colors will be limited to the concrete, and the granite curbing will remain as is.

He has painted some of the designs on the Ted Herbert music building downtown and is finishing up a mural at Pappy’s Pizza.

He plans to use Montana Gold spray paint — a brand preferred by graffiti artists — for the Canal Street work.

Beaudry said Intown initially wanted to paint several blocks of the median. But city officials wanted to see how the paint holds up after a winter of snow, salt and sand.

Beaudry said the patterns are designed for the enjoyment of pedestrians, and that the best view will probably be from parking garages, apartments and other places with height.

Drivers will see them, but they should not be a distraction, she said.

Intown is spending $5,000 on the project, which is expected to take about two weeks to complete.

The median is one of two public art projects scheduled for downtown.

Next month, work should begin on a mural on the side of the Lamont, Hanley & Associates Inc. building, 1138 Elm St., which overlooks the vacant lot at the southwest corner of the intersection of Bridge and Elm streets.

The building owners are accepting submissions until Aug. 20 and will then select an artist for the mural. The four-story mural must somehow incorporate the billboard that is on the third level of the building and that will remain after the mural is completed, she said.

Beaudry said the vacant lot is owned by the city, and Intown hopes to add some benches to the lot. “We want to make that a setting for people to enjoy lunch,” she said.

The two projects represent an effort to use public art to enhance the city, advocates said.

“Public art helps build a sense of community,” said Mayor Joyce Craig in a quote distributed by Intown. “Both of these projects will highlight the work of local artists and continue the city’s quest to celebrate our culture and diversity.”


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