Mural dream becomes an artistic reality in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent |
July 11. 2014 5:56PM

Artist Barbara Andrews works on a massive mural Friday on West Pearl Street in Nashua. (Kimberly Houghton/Union Leader Correspondent)

Vivian's dream mural Barbara Andrews uses an enlarged pony express post card to help guide her while painting a mural of the former Tremont House hotel in downtown Nashua. Kimberly Houghton 

NASHUA — For the past month, Barbara Andrews has been perfecting a large mural that she believes will bring new radiance and charm into downtown Nashua.

“This city has so much to offer, and I am glad to have the opportunity to show off its beauty,” said Andrews, an artist who is in the process of completing her third historical mural in the city.

Vivian's dream mural Barbara Andrews paints a large mural Friday on West Pearl Street in Nashua. Kimberly Houghton 

Andrews, 45, is about to finish the extensive project that has been about four years in the making. Seeing a blank canvas instead of an exterior wall, Andrews approached the owner of a downtown building on West Pearl Street, hoping her mural idea could become a reality.

Vivian's dream mural Artist Barbara Andrews works on a massive mural Friday on West Pearl Street in Nashua. The painting is expected to be finished next week. Kimberly Houghton 

Phil Walker, who runs the Walker Family Trust along with his father Jim Walker, agreed to let Andrews paint a massive mural on their building’s wall behind the parking lot of TD Bank on the corner of Main and West Pearl Street.

The late Vivian Walker, Phil Walker’s mother and Jim Walker’s wife, always wanted to have a mural painted on the building near her former downtown dress shop, according to Andrews.

Andrews found a historical postcard of West Pearl Street during the early 1900s at the Nashua Historical Society.

“I knew it would be perfect for the painting,” she said.

The 40-foot by 35-foot mural is still a work in progress, but should be completed soon. One of the major challenges with the mural is that the display wall was not constructed as an exterior wall, said Andrews. The former Tremont House hotel where Theodore Roosevelt visited was once attached to the building.

There was significant prep work that was necessary to make the wall ready for the painting, a project being overseen by City Arts Nashua and funded through donations from more than 100 individuals.

“This was truly Vivian’s dream,” said Judith Carlson of City Arts Nashua. “There is a piece of history behind this mural, and it will become a downtown icon.”

West Pearl Street was once the economic center of Nashua, said Carlson. She said it is fitting to have that time period — the early 1900s — depicted in the new mural.

Although Vivian Walker passed away at the age of 84 in 2011, her dream will live on through the artistic talents and vision being brought forward by Andrews, and the generous donations of so many people and businesses, said Carlson.

“I love to make people happy, and if I can create a visual space that makes people smile, it is worthwhile,” Andrews said on Friday while taking a break from painting the mural. “It brightens my day to see people stop and watch my work.”

Andrews, currently of Haverhill, Mass., lived in Nashua for about a decade and said she is pleased that the city has welcomed her work.

About 12 gallons of paint have already been used on the mural, which will eventually be illuminated with lighting at night. The public is invited to attend a dedication ceremony of the mural at 1:30 p.m. July 20 at the TD Bank parking lot behind Main Street.


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