ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The streets of Lynn were alive on Saturday with more than 2,500 people viewing the Beyond Walls mural festival.
By MATT DEMIRS
LYNN —See what a few cans of paint and an idea can start?
More than 2,500 people gathered in the city’s Arts & Cultural District for the “Rock the Block” celebration Saturday, capping off the 10-day Beyond Walls mural festival transforming privately owned buildings with public street art.
From the What Cheer? Brigade leading a parade of hundreds, to a crowd cheering on the 20 muralists and founder of Beyond Walls, Al Wilson, as Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy awarded them with keys to the city, an appreciation for community involvement was touching everyone.
New York-based muralist Cey Adams, whose mural spells out “Love” on the side of 65 Munroe St., spoke to a city that embraced the meaning of public art these past 10 days.
“I speak for everybody when I say we truly believe you can transform the community with a can of spray paint,” he said. “I think that going forward this is only going to get bigger and stronger.”
He and many of the artists have felt the love since arriving to the area, he said.
The day also allowed people to interact with the artists who have spent hundreds of hours to the downtown facelift many were eager to see.
Georgia Hill was spotted giving hugs to fans as young as 6-year-old Sophia, who congratulated Hill with numerous high-fives.
People were seen posing and taking pictures like the woman named Hejer in FONKi’s mural at 18 Munroe Street, titled, “I sculpted my heart out of diamond, because love ain’t enough.”
Overall, he’s happy with how wonderful everything went, he said.
“It was powerful to see people of all ages and all walks of life come together for art,” he said. “It’s opened up conversation between people. Those who come separately and might look different than one another, leave as a group of one to go look at the next. It has created discussion among people.”
Muralists such as Hill, David Zayas, and Relm were just a few adding finishing touches to their wall on Sunday, where downtown Lynn and the installations of art continued to bring in people from everywhere.
Al Wilson led a tour of about 50 people in the early morning, he said.
As people wonder about how murals will be upkept, Wilson said a Sherwin Williams protective sealant will be applied. The sealant protects the murals from harsh New England conditions, like frost, snow, and rain, as well as strong UV rays and the humidity. The walls were also primed ahead of time for long term protection.
But most importantly, smiles were seen on faces, new and old, from Spring Street to City Hall Square. After more than a year of planning, Beyond Walls did exactly what it set out to do: bring a community together through public street art.
The festival caused many people to ask: What is planned for next year?
Matt Demirs can be reached at [email protected]