HALLOWELL — Professional artist Jen Greta Cart shared painting tips with 9-year-old Elise Inch, who joined her in painting a mural Saturday at the Down with the Crown Mural Project, praising the young Hallowell girl’s precise brushwork as she painted in the face of a red fox.

“Great job. It’s great to have someone who takes such care,” said Cart, who had sketched the outline of the mural filled with birds, the large fox and other wildlife beforehand.

Working next to them, on a smaller mural he sketched out on the spot in just a few minutes and then painted, featuring a couple of people walking their dog in Hallowell and passing by a large green construction fence, Cart’s husband, Chris Cart, also a professional artist, stopped to admire their work, also complimenting Elise’s colorful contribution.

She paid the complement back to Chris Cart, noting, “Yours looks really good, too.”

They were among a group of people who turned out Saturday to paint a series of smaller murals that will be combined to create a unique, massive mural to spiff the city up as part of Hallowell’s unique approach to a major construction project. That project consists of tearing up and rebuilding the main way through town, Water Street, leaving it open to traffic only in one direction for months.

The murals will be joined together and put up on the green construction fencing used to block off the work zone that now divides the downtown section of Water Street. The art will be displayed facing the one remaining lane of traffic, to encourage motorists passing through Hallowell to stop and check out the city’s downtown offerings, despite the construction going on around them.

“The idea is to have a really nice public art display that encourages people to stop,” said Deb Fahy, executive director of Harlow Art Gallery and a host of Saturday’s mural-painting event. Adults and children took to the canvas Saturday, painting sunflowers, dragons, a Russian nesting doll, downtown Hallowell buildings, a mural incorporating “Welcome to Hallowell” into the city’s riverfront streetscape, and a peace symbol.

Elise’s mother, Jessica Inch, there with her husband, three children and a friend, all of whom were painting, said she thought the group mural, meant to attract people to downtown Hallowell despite the construction, was a great idea.

She said her husband is an artist and their children have some experience with the arts, too.

“We don’t have television time at home. We do art time instead, so they’ve had that instilled in them,” Jessica Inch said.

Six-year-old Denali Garson, of West Gardiner, sketched out and painted a circular, colorful mandala with a smiling red face in the center of a bright yellow sun.

“I’ve done mandalas before, but nothing huge like this,” she said as she added some bright pink sections to the geometric shape.

A person walks between a construction fence and buildings Wednesday on Water Street in downtown Hallowell. The murals that were painted Saturday in the Harlow Gallery will be hung on the fence while the road work continues this year. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

The mural is one way Hallowell people are hoping to encourage shoppers, diners and other potential visitors to visit downtown Hallowell despite the construction.

A Discover Hallowell Selfie Contest is also underway, with a different theme, and a $25 gift certificate to a Hallowell business offered as a prize, each week. Entrants submit “selfie” photographs of themselves in downtown Hallowell. The theme for each week will be posted on Hallowell Music and Arts’ Facebook and Instagram pages.

“We’re doing it simply to encourage people to continue to come to downtown Hallowell during the construction,” said Nancy Bischoff, co-chairwoman of the Down with the Crown marketing campaign. “We’re trying to leverage the visibility of the project, which some people might consider a negative, to take that as an opportunity to encourage people to come discover Hallowell.”

Gudrun Ziemer, 5, and her mother, Ariel Ziemer, of Gardiner, worked together on a colorful mural featuring umbrellas.

“It’s my first experience painting something like this,” Gudrun said.

Her mother said they’d look for their mural when they drive through downtown.

Ben Lizanecz, a manager at downtown bar and restaurant Liberal Cup, painted a mural featuring a pint glass, a bowl of the business’s beer cheese soup, and a map of Maine with Hallowell’s spot on the map highlighted.

Fahy said artists were not directed to follow a specific theme for their contributions to the mural. She said rules banned the addition of advertising and political statements to the mural.

Mural pieces, she said, “are supposed to be done in a positive, creative spirit, thinking about what you love about Hallowell, what it’s all about.”

Fahy said pieces that will be included in the mural also are being done by other groups and artists.

The murals will be auctioned off at the end of the road project, with proceeds being dedicated to help fund arts programming at the Harlow Gallery and the Hallowell Arts and Cultural Committee.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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