HALLOWELL — A local artist has started preliminary design work on a 950-square foot mural to welcome drivers from the North into the city’s downtown.

Chris Cart, an artist from Hallowell, said he is working on the overarching composition of the large mural which will cover the back of the Vallee Real Estate building at the corner of Winthrop Street and Water Street. Cart said the mural will celebrate the town’s history and highlight the culture of present-day Hallowell.

“I want this to be what the town wants; I’m aiming for something that speaks to what Hallowell has been and is and what it will be,” Cart said. “That’s why I want this to be my best piece.”

Cart has painted murals at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta and at Hall-Dale Elementary School, as well as murals in Bath and Brunswick. He said Sunday that he is also working on a two-mural project with Woolwich artist John Gable that is destined for Washington, D.C.

Cart said he held a public forum in the fall for citizens to suggest what they would like to see in the mural and is working with local historians to compose the work. He said one of the popular suggestions is to represent Hallowell’s LGBTQ community, among other aspects of Maine’s smallest city by land area.

“The LGBTQ community has been an important aspect of the town for many decades,” he said. “There’s a whole realm of things that’s going into the mural.”

He said a big challenge will be taking the elements of Hallowell’s history, like granite mining, and tying them into a cohesive mural with the vibrant, artistic culture of present-day Hallowell.

The Kennebec Journal reported in October that Sam Webber, the city’s unofficial historian, and Cart were in talks about what to include in the mural.

“I’ve been sending him pictures,” Webber said in October. “One thing we came up was with was the base of the mural would be the granite quarry.

“On the bottom, a guy with a hard hat coming up with a piece of the trolley track,” he added.

Cart said he is hoping to raise $28,000 for supplies and living expenses during the job. He said supplies would run him about $7,000 and the rest would ensure that he could work on the project unhindered to get it up by June.

“It will give me a budget so I can pay my bills and not do other jobs,” Cart said.

The funding will be provided by sponsors, grants, private donors and a crowd-funding campaign.

Chris Vallee, owner of the Vallee Real Estate building, said he and Cart have discussed putting a mural on his building for a year. Cart has painted murals for the Quarry Tap Room, of which Vallee is also part-owner.

“I’m thrilled; (the wall is) like a blank canvas,” Vallee said Sunday. “It could change the whole face of Hallowell.”

Vallee said he will make personal donations, a donation through his real estate company and will lobby the Quarry Tap Room team to make a donation.

Another sponsor is the Hallowell Arts and Culture Council, which spearheaded the mural project during Water Street’s reconstruction. Deb Fahy, committee member and executive director of the Harlow Gallery, said $500 from the sale of murals will go to Cart’s project. Fahy said that auction raised “just under $3,000.”

Fahy said having a mural welcoming visitors into downtown will support the artistic community in Hallowell.

“It’s going to be a gateway basically that helps promote the arts,” she said. “Chris is a well-known mural artist … it’s about time (Hallowell) gets a mural.”

Cart said The Maine Arts Commission also awarded a $1,300 project grant to help the project.

“It came in when we needed to get the balls rolling,” Cart said.

Cart, who will be helped by his wife, Jen, also an artist, said the project is scheduled to be installed in June.

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666

[email protected]

Twitter: @SamShepME

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