LYNN — It’s time for a shift change at Beyond Walls headquarters on Mount Vernon Street, and five student interns relax while manager Charlotte Maher arranges work orders on the desk.
“How has the day gone so far?” asks Maher.
“It’s been really fun. I’m covered in paint,” says intern JahNyah Spencer, a student at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. Everyone laughs, especially fellow interns Edivan Solano, Chris Rincon, Janiah Jimenez and Tyshaun Anderson. There are 10 interns in all, all from Lynn, and they are getting paid for their efforts during the two-week Street Art Festival.
It’s safe to say the roster of international artists is well taken care of by interns and Beyond Walls staff.
John Kibbey, an adult volunteer who assists the interns, is also seated at the table. Kibbey, who works for Cardinal Health and owns a building (the former Side Street Pub on Spring Street), is using 12 vacation days to “do whatever has to be done” to help out the Beyond Walls staff. That includes transporting artists to Logan airport with time to spare before their flights. “He’s a rock star,” said Pedro Soto, Beyond Walls associate director and a Lynn resident. “These young adults are all rock stars, too.”
The artists funnel requests, such as “I need more paint” or “Can someone help clean up my work site?” to the staff, an intern dispatcher, and assignments are handed to the interns. During the daily shift change, Maher and the interns update each other on the progress of each artist.
“Lisa King (an artist from Australia) has finished her wall and is leaving today,” says Maher. “She was really nice,” responds Jimenez, a student at KIPP Academy Lynn. “When you look at her on Instagram and you see what amazing work she’s done, you think she won’t be approachable. But then you meet her and she’s really nice. She’s welcoming and not snobby at all.”
“Lisa King was up on the lift during (Wednesday’s) storm. It was raining buckets and really windy,” adds Kibbey. “Oh, no,” answer the interns in unison.
Anderson and Solano had brought paint to artist Smug, the Australian who’s creating that remarkably large mural on The Vault building. “He’s flying through everything,” said Anderson, a Lynn English High School grad who’s going to Anna Maria College.
The interns say they’re having fun and learning a lot.
“I really love what I’m doing, and I feel a sense of pride for how this is having a positive effect on Lynn,” said Solano, a KIPP Academy Lynn grad who is Duke University-bound.
Rincon, who attends St. Mary’s High School, says “I love how this is making Lynn better. I enjoy helping the artists and love watching them work.” Rincon runs the dispatch operation; when an artist sends a request he will assign it to one of the others, called runners.
Jimenez and Anderson say they are in wonderment daily, watching the progress that’s made, and pleased that the murals and artwork paint a positive image of their city.
Spencer is even the subject of the mural by Hiero Veiga on Central Avenue. “I told him I was into art, and that I go to RAW (Raw Art Works). He said he sees a lot of potential in my art and wants me to keep going.”
Al Wilson, founder and CEO of Beyond Walls, said the group’s commitment to the city’s youth is strong. “Something we really feel is important to do is to teach young adults here in Lynn project-management skills that are transferable beyond Beyond Walls. Our mission is to activate space to strengthen the community, and these young people are certainly helping us succeed in that mission.”