DERRY — Artists affiliated with the muralist group the Walldogs began work Wednesday on a new mural depicting town history in Derry.
A handful of people started laying out the design and applying some of the background colors to the mural, designed by Keene Signworx, that will cover most of a 72 by 18 foot wall on the side of Cask & Vine that faces Sabatino’s North Italian Restaurant on East Broadway.
Keene Signworx owners Mary McCord and Peter Poanessa worked with Cam Bortz from Mystic, Conn., to set up some scaffolding and tarps over the side of the building Wednesday morning.
By the afternoon, they had begun drawing the designs using paper patterns with holes through which charcoal powder was pounded. They use markers to draw the lines over the charcoal.
“And then from that point it’s pretty much paint by number,” Bortz said.
He said the idea is to make it easy for a lot of people to help.
Later in the day, two more artists, hailing from Chicago and Philadelphia respectively, were due to arrive and help out. They are all part of the Walldogs, a group of muralists Bortz describes as a “very loose non-organization of sign painters” from across the country.
The Walldogs have been creating murals like these for the past 22 years, mostly in the Midwest, Bortz said. This is the second one in New England, after one that was created in 2017 in Westerly, R.I.
Though it is the first one in New Hampshire, it is due to be quickly followed by many more. Between June 20 and 23, the town of Keene is playing host to a Walldogs Mural Festival, which will result in the creation of 16 murals throughout the city.
McCord said the Derry mural is good practice for her.
“It’s good because I haven’t done one in four years,” McCord said.
She said it took her about two years to plan the festival in Keene, and it will be completed entirely by volunteers.
Bortz said when a town puts on a Walldogs festival, it’s like putting on a reunion for the muralists. In exchange for the lodging and food the community provides the artists, the artists leave the community with permanent art.
McCord said she estimates a single mural uses about $650 worth of paint. All the paint for the Derry mural is being donated by Benson Lumber & Hardware in Derry, according to Alana Wentworth, co-owner of Cask & Vine.
Wentworth organized the project. She raised the funds, coordinated with the artists and worked with town officials to get the necessary permits. Eventually, she hopes to host a Walldogs festival in Derry to create a handful of murals in a single weekend.
The first mural is likely going to be finished by Saturday, Bortz said. It’s design showcases Derry’s history from its founding in 1719 by depicting many of its landmark buildings as well as the rocket that took astronaut Alan Shepard to space in 1961.