Preserving a Painting

Village Green mural needs your help

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thirteen years ago, when Lanny Little set to work painting the expansive mural that surrounds the movie screen above the stage at the Fairhaven Village Green, it took him three months, and help from five high school interns, to complete his vision.

But time and the elements have taken their toll, and parts of the mural—which includes a large depiction of a historical view of Fairhaven streets as well as a variety of windows featuring humans engaged in various social endeavors—are fading from view and need to be touched up to retain their original beauty. Additionally, a clear protective coating intended to extend the mural’s longevity for decades to come needs to be applied.

Little points out that no tax money was used to paint the original mural, and contributions from both individuals and businesses made the project possible. Working with the Old Fairhaven Association, Little is hoping people will once again step up to the plate and donate what they can to extend the life of the popular work of art.

“If people enjoy the mural and want to see it preserved, they should consider donating,” Little says. “Our streets and parks need periodic maintenance, and so does an outdoor mural.”

If you’re a Bellingham resident who’s enjoyed the painting—whether it was while watching a movie under the summer stars, as a backdrop for an outdoor jazz concert or while handling the fresh lettuce at the Wednesday Farmers Market—there are a variety of ways you can contribute to the cause.

First off, 500 raffle tickets at $10 apiece are being offered. The winner will not only feel good about gifting dollars to a project that beautifies the community, but can also have their likeness—or the likeness of a loved one, or even a pet—painted onto the mural.

If you’re thinking bigger, donations of $125-$500 will ensure your name or message will be painted on commemorative blocks that will appear to be chiseled into stone. Of course, donations of any size will be accepted—even if they don’t memorialize the generous benefactors. (About $7,000 is needed to make it to the finish line.)

Although he hasn’t been painting behemoth outdoor murals for a while now, Little says he’s looking forward to returning to the practice, at least for a little while. When asked what the rewards and challenges were for the months-long projects he used to spend his summer months completing, he was quick with an answer.

“To see the concept, a sketch on paper, expanded to a large mural is very rewarding,” the artist says. “Painting outdoors is challenging because it’s often too hot, too cool or too windy. Another challenge is getting the whole thing painted within your time frame.”

As the summer months in the Pacific Northwest are fleeting, Little had to work within the confines of the good windows of weather to get those bigger paintings finished.

In other words, if you’re going to donate to the Village Green mural refurbishing project, do it as soon as possible so that, come next summer, you can enjoy it even more. 

As for Little, he’s happy to have his paintings in place for the public to enjoy, and hopes his efforts to keep them in good condition benefit more than his artistic sensibilities.

“It is a privilege to have my work out there,” he says. “I like to sell my easel paintings to individuals and businesses, but having my work out in the public domain is even more rewarding.”

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