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Beverly artist works with local students to increase artistry downtown

Posted by Terri Ogan  April 14, 2013 11:20 AM

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In an attempt to enhance the atmosphere of downtown Beverly, co-owner of Casa de Moda on Cabot Street has hired a local artist to collaborate with students from Montserrat College of Art to create and install a mural on the side of the store's building.

The mural project, which will be led by local artist Philip Coleman, will be the first of a three-part project installed around the Casa de Moda building.

Production on the first mural will start this spring and wrap up during the day of Arts Fest in June. The mural, which will be about 20 by 25-foot, will be called "Art on the Spot.”

“This is how a lot of towns and villages and cities have used public art to enhance the look of the area,” said Janice Preston, co-owner of Casa de Moda. “I've always wanted to have something like that.”

The type of art going up is called “trompé l’oeil” in French, which in English means, “deceives the eye.”

And the first mural will do just that. The painting will depict a narrow street with multiple shops and stores on each side and multiple patrons walking by.

“It's going to be a scene as if you are walking into a small street on both sides,” Preston said. “It will be on a flat wall but will look as if you can turn in it.”

Preston, who owns Casa de Moda with her husband Don, is the business manager for the French Tour Program at the Beverly High School. Every other year she accompanies a teacher in taking a group of French students to France and has been doing so for the last 12 years.

France is where she has gained her inspiration to have a trio of “trompé l’oeil” murals installed on her store’s building.

“A lot of places in Europe have a lot of ‘trompé l'oeil’ paintings to create a scenic look on unattractive buildings,” Preston said. “Beverly is working towards creating an arts and downtown cultural center and working to make the streetscapes look more artistic and welcoming. This is something that we thought would enhance that goal.”

Preston first met Coleman before Christmas when he and his wife went into Casa de Moda to sell some small Mexican piñatas art that his wife Maria makes.

Coleman said he wants to establish himself as a muralist and after hearing Preston’s ideas, he got to work with some sketches.

“It’s still a work in progress,” Coleman said. “We have the initial sketches and we made a presentation to the Board of Directors of Beverly Arts Fest. We’ll start in May with student interns from Montserrat.”

Coleman will select two or three interns from Montserrat College of Art, and the entire group will grid the sketch out, put a grid padding on the wall after priming the wall, then transfer the sketch onto the wall by painting it.

Production for the mural will start in May and take about two to four weeks to finish.

“Our goal is to make it actually look like it will go into the wall,” Coleman said. “I think this will be a great opportunity for the students as well. I hope this brings more appreciation of art. I think Beverly is heading in that direction already and I’m hoping this mural will encourage that.”

The two other murals, Preston said, will be at the back of the building and will incorporate a New England style harbor scene with stone paths going through a garden, as well as a series of fine art paintings on vacant windows and doors.

Terri Ogan can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter.

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