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Watertown officials to celebrate massive outdoor mural completion

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  September 20, 2013 10:44 AM

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Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Lead artist Gregg Bernstein, left, worked with teens, including Liana Aleksanyan, 15, on the mural this summer.

Watertown officials this weekend will hold a ceremony celebrating the completion of the 230-foot-long mural of Watertown landmarks on the cement wall that snakes along the Linear Park bike path.

The mural was created by nine local students who devoted their summer weekdays to painting the project, which aims to discourage graffiti and introduce public art into the local community.

The celebration kickoff is this Sunday, Sept. 22, at the mural at the end of Forest Street. Local officials who planned for and supported the project will speak, as will the mural overseer, Gregg Bernstein, and the student artists.

The mural aims to capture the essence of Watertown, featuring city landmarks like the Charles River, an MBTA bus, the high school’s champion field hockey team at Victory Field, the Arsenal buildings, and more.

The mural’s landmarks were picked by Watertown residents who filled out suggestion slips and submitted them in boxes placed at the library, high school, and other local spots around town.

The events involving Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Watertown on April 19 thrust the suburb into a national spotlight, but those involved in the painting project say the mural has no connection to the bombing and its local aftermath.

“We planned all this before what happened in April,” said Janet Jameson, a committee member who is among the project’s active supporters. “What’s happened here with this project has nothing to do with that. It’s about our community and how it has pulled together.”

In addition to donations of money from several local banks, the Sherwin-Williams store on Howard Street has supplied buckets upon buckets of free paint, while the Home Depot on Arsenal Street has given all of the other supplies needed for the artistic undertaking. Earlier this summer, local Tufts Health Plan employees covered over graffiti and primed the wall for painting, and the town’s Recreation Department oversaw the application process for the student artists, and now is handling the time sheets to document their community service hours.

“This is a real community effort,” said Bernstein, the professional mural artist chosen to oversee the project. “We’re hoping this takes off, because there are so many opportunities along this bike route for public art.”

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