LYNN — The murals that come out of the Beyond Walls Festival don’t just show up. There’s a team behind prepping the walls before their colorful revitalization.
Painters & Allied Trades District Council #35 have prepped, power washed, and primed each of the walls in preparation of their murals since the festival’s 2017 debut.
They also train each of the artists on aerial and scissor lift training and get them certified, which is usually very expensive, according to Justin Desmond, the union’s current director of organizing.
“What’s great is our members that live in this community are giving back and then the union is showing their commitment to the community,” said Desmond.
When Al Wilson, the executive director and founder of Beyond Walls, reached out to Former Director of Organizing John Doherty last year, for the union knew it was something they should be a part of. Doherty and the rest of the union members saw the value in helping revitalize a community like Lynn. The priming of the walls and the lift training of the artists are all in-kind donations provided by the union.
“It’s great to help revitalize Lynn because it’s the gateway to the North Shore,” said Rob Jellie, a union member and resident of Melrose. “We represent Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, so giving back to communities like this is an easy task. It’s such a great cause, I mean look how pretty all the murals look.”
Desmond estimated that the union has donated more than $300,000 behind last year’s festival and this year’s upcoming event. There are about 10 volunteers on a rotation, either helping get the walls ready for their makeovers, or getting the artists ready for their airlifts. IUPAT DC 35 has also secured a partnership with Sherwin Williams, which has donated all of the primer for each of the walls that either got a mural last year or will receive one this year.
“Our business manager Jeff Sullivan saw the value in helping to revitalize Lynn’s community and bring some brightness back to it,” said Desmond. “We have been going around this area and working near businesses that didn’t have tables or chairs outside and now they do because they see all the added traffic coming through since last year’s festival.”
Desmond said he has heard people say they don’t consider graffiti on walls a kind of art, but he knows times have changed. He said people need to realize that beautiful murals are being placed on walls all over, not just in Lynn. While one mural is already underway on Tremont Street, across from St. Mary’s School, the festival doesn’t kick off until Monday, August 6.
“I go home after working on this and I’m happy,” said Desmond. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”