This week at the Newburyport Art Association, local residents will get a preview of the murals that will soon decorate the Salisbury Rail Trail connector, a part of its popular Old Eastern Marsh recreation trail.
The murals are slated to be installed this spring on the concrete abutments under the Gillis Bridge, which spans the Merrimack River. The bridge not only connects road traffic between Salisbury and Newburyport, but with the rail trail connector, it now provides a safe method of travel across busy Route 1 between Salisbury’s Old Eastern Marsh and Newburyport’s Clipper City rail trails.
For the mural project, an invitation went out to artists last fall; seven locals were chosen to create the murals. Their work is being honored this week at the art association in a new exhibit that runs through Monday. A reception with the artists is set for tonight at the art association on Water Street from 5:30 to 7:30. The festivities include a program with state and local representatives, beginning at 6:30, during which awards will be presented to the artists.
“The murals are smashing,” said Salisbury Selectman Jerry Klima, who helped frame the exhibit. “They’re far above my expectations. The artists did wonderful work.”
Salisbury officials along with the Newburyport Art Association and Coastal Trails Coalition collaborated over the past six months to select the artists. They are: Methuen’s Jim Angelone; Raymond Guertin of Rowley; Peggy Omer and Edith Heyck, both of Amesbury; Newbury’s Debi Libuda; and Stephanie Noah and Claudia Owens, both of Newburyport.
In addition to the permanent murals, Salisbury worked with Triton Middle School art teacher Brooke Morse, whose students researched Salisbury’s history and held a contest of their own, according to Salisbury planning director Lisa Pearson. The students selected nine drawings as winners, with three on exhibit in the art show.