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Published December 27, 2011 in the Rutland Herald
By SUSAN SMALLHEER
A group of residents are working with artist Jamie Townsend of Springfield to create the mural, which would be hung on the Handly building, which is located at the head of the Springfield Square.
The building, which is sometimes called “the Plywood Palace” by locals, has long drawn the attention of people working on downtown revitalization efforts.
The building itself was victim of a large fire in the early 1980s, when the top floors were demolished after the blaze.
Several years ago, at the height of Simpsonmania when ‘‘The Simpsons Movie’’ premiered in Springfield, people had proposed painting the large plywood structure bright Simpson yellow in an effort to brighten up downtown.
Nina Jamison, executive director of Gallery at the VAULT, said that in the process of inviting artists to display at The Great Hall at the recently restored and reconstructed Fellows Gear Shaper complex, she wanted to do something about the old Parks and Woolson factory on Park Street.
But when she contacted Townsend, he suggested the Handly building instead, she said recently.
Townsend has recently painted a large mural at Springfield Bowl.
Jamison said the mural, which would be painted on nine plywood panels measuring 4 feet by 8 feet, would be able to be removed from the building, when and if more ambitious restoration efforts are undertaken.
The mural will be 12 feet by 24 feet, she said. A sketch by Townsend shows Springfield’s 1800s stagecoach, which ran between Charlestown, N.H., and Springfield, Jamison said.
The last stagecoach stopped in 1897 when electric streetcars were installed. The Adna Brown Hotel burned on New Year’s Day in 1961. The 48-room hotel stood where the former Chittenden Bank stood. At the time it opened in 1892, the hotel was described as one of the finest in Vermont.
Jamison said she approached building owner Bill Handly of Springfield about the mural, and he fully supported the effort, she said.
She said the mural would not interfere with a potential project at the Handly building, proposed by Springfield On The Move, which involves siding and painting the building.
“The mural can come down easily, we’re not taking anything away,” she said.
Jamison said that John Meekin, one of the developers of One Hundred River Street LLC, has donated studio space for Townsend to paint the mural in the yellow house on the Fellows property on Pearl Street.
“Jamie can be painting all winter,” said Jamison, noting that Meekin had a pellet stove installed in the house, which will also house Polly Whitcomb’s new clay studio.
Jamison said that project doesn’t need a zoning permit since the mural is not considered a sign.
Bill Kearns, Springfield’s zoning administrator, said similar murals have run into trouble because they included words, and often directions.
Jamison said any donations can be sent to the Springfield Rotary Club, since it is a nonprofit organization with tax status.
Eventually, a total of $2,500 will have to be raised to pay for the mounting of the mural panels, additional supplies and Townsend’s costs.
Posted January 31st, 2012. Add a comment
T-shirts featuring my art are now being sold through Rural Vermont. They’re having an online auction of the painting, and selling the shirts on their website during the six weeks of the auction. Check out the Rural VT website at www.ruralvermont.org.
When you log on to the site the homepage features my painting that will be on the shirt. You can place bids for the painting and/or buy t-shirts.
Proceeds from the shirts go to the Vermont Community Foundation Farm Disaster Relief Fund, which was set up to provide aid to farms that were damaged during Irene. We felt moved to contribute toward this cause, as we personally know farmers who suffered losses during the floods.