By Kelsey Bartlett
If Salem’s Florida Street has felt neglected over the years, it didn’t this week, as multiples little hands pitched in to beautify the area.
For the second year in a row, Salem Art Center has requested, and Salem Parks and Recreation has approved, the painting of a mural on the street’s department building. The building is directly behind Kiwanis Field, which last year’s sports themed-mural pays homage to.
“Last year we sat down with parks and recreation and discussed putting a mural on the front side of that building,” Joseph Palotas said. “We came up with the idea of a sports theme.”
Unlike last year’s mural, this year’s is a reflection of the kids who helped create it– literally. The white cinderblock building acted as a canvas, and has been transformed into mountains of purple and blue. In front of the mountains, young artists paint the scene.
“We figured that it would be a lot of fun to have paintings of kids painting the scene,” Palotas said. “So then it translates into the full scope of what parks and recreation does. Everything from sports, to kids activities, to painting.”
Jessica and Joe Palotas of Salem Art Center initiated the project as part of their summer camp for kids in grades one through nine. The husband-and-wife duo had originally hoped to paint the giant green wall that lines the road behind the field, because it causes drivers to lose sight of the mountains. However, for historical reasons, the project was denied.
Even though the location changed, the idea stayed the same.
“They’re painting the beautiful landscape of Salem,” Jessica Palotas said.
First, the group presented a sketch, which they free handed with black latex paint onto the building before going at it with all the colors of the rainbow. Sherwin Williams of Salem sponsored more than enough paint for the event, and Salem Parks and Recreation provided a donation for snacks and supplies.
“This is my second year,” Ian Turner, a ninth grader who has taken a leadership role in the camp said. “It’s just a lot of fun. I’ve been doing a little bit of everything. I’ve had snacks. I’ve painted. I’ve played wall ball.”
The result is a work of art that will be enjoyed for years by those who come out to a game, or even just drive by the site.
“It’s just a great way for the kids to put their stamp on the town,” Joseph Palotas said.
The mural marks the fifth for the Palotas couple, and they hope to contribute many more.