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Downtown Lynn lightens up

A tour group walks through the newly lit underpass on Washington Street in Lynn, an art installation part of Beyond Walls. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — As a crowd of several dozen finished their countdown from 10, the train underpass on Washington Street became aglow with a variety of colors.

Colors of the rainbow blended into each other, creating different patterns and spectacles that the crowd watched from below, putting an end to the Beyond Walls art tour that took the crowd through Lynn.

The tour, which was apart of ArtWeek, gave visitors a glimpse into the unique stories behind the murals and neon signs that have recently been on display in the city and was led by Beyond Walls Founder and Executive Director Al Wilson and Associate Director Pedro Soto.

“What ended up happening was a comradery between different artists,” Wilson said about the time frame when the murals were being painted.

One mural the group stopped at was by Caleb Neelon and was painted to resemble a community quilt on Munroe Street.

“The interesting thing about this piece is that Caleb integrated the community’s ideas,” Soto said.

Several pieces of the mural are from local children and one section even features a dog from a nearby family that would sit at the window each day and watch Caleb paint.

Wilson told a story behind artist FONKi’s mural on Munroe Street titled “I Sculpted My Heart of Diamonds Because Love is Not Enough.”

“I was grabbing a cup of coffee at Thousand Hills and he was out there sitting in the middle of the garden looking at the wall,” Wilson said. “After about two or three hours I walk out so see how he’s doing to find out he was counting each brick.”

Another story comes from artist David Zayas while he was creating his piece “The Protector” off of Spring Street.

The two told the story about how artists could call for supplies and runners would bring it out to them throughout downtown Lynn. Zayas, finding birds nesting into the wall that he was painting, called and asked for a pound of bird seed.

“By the end of his piece the birds were eating out of his hands,” Soto said.

Also along the tour were vintage neon signs from the collection of Dave Waller, who started dumpster diving for and collecting old signs when he was a child.

“I love it. I love the fact that this has come full circle,” Waller said. “People love it too.”

Mayor Thomas McGee joined the tour and had the honor of pulling the lever to light up the underpass.

“Thank you Al for helping make this happen,” McGee said. “When you came to me and told me your ideas of murals and lighting up the city I felt it, and here we are today.”

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