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Phase 2 of the Marblehead Little Theatre’s outdoor summer art exhibit is currently on display, thanks to the creativity of local youth.
The Marblehead Little Theatre building is currently looking more lively than ever, a glow with 37 canvases, all painted by children, as a part of a celebration of color and creativity. From the American flag, to Marblehead scenery like plants, rainbows and ocean views, the collage of drawing went about as well as artist Jeremy Barnett could have hoped for.
“It was really cool,” Barnett said. “We had no requirements, built it as being for children and basically said, ‘do whatever you want.’ It was great. The range of artists is really interesting. We have a couple three- and four-year-olds, and some artists who have natural talent and training. Having the different ranges of experience right next to each other is really exciting. I call the mural, ‘aggressively non-cynical for cynical times.'”
Barnett, originally from Marblehead before moving to the Detroit area, saw his summer plans halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to spend the summer in Marblehead.
But that summer in town without any public art festivals or programs didn’t feel right to Barnett, and through his connections with the Marblehead Little Theatre, got the gears turning on a series of hanging murals.
“Talking to my parents, they told me everything was canceled,” Barnett said. “It makes sense, but it’s awful. My work is in theater and all live performances have been canceled too. My family has long roots with the Marblehead Little Theatre and somehow we put these pieces together. With public arts canceled and the theater laying empty at the moment, we had a chance to do something.”
With supplies being provided to those who wanted to participate and the issue out for submissions, Barnett was ready for any kind of response, whether it be lackluster or overwhelming.
“It’s funny,” Barnett said. “You do stuff like this, I’m talking to people and I always assume there’s no interest at all. You just never know. What we got was more than we expected, but not so many that we couldn’t make it work.
“Originally we planned on 27 kids but that was exceeded in 24 hours. We did some very quick math and decided how many we could put up. It maxed out at the 37 we have hanging up now.”
And the final product is something abstract, diverse, and exactly what Barnett was going for. Especially in a time where families and children’s biggest concerns lay in the return to school, he was happy to see the community deliver.
“At a time where we are simply far away from each other, it’s nice to do something and see people, especially children, make it happen,” Barnett said. “It’s nice to see kids doing something that’s colorful and bright, and then being able to share it with the rest of the community. The real spotlight is on the kids and the families that support them. There’s a lot of anxiety in sending kids back to school and I think this has taken on a new layer of importance with that.”