Around Amherst: Public murals, large and small, would highlight issues


Staff Writer
Published: 3/24/2022 12:57:12 PM
Modified: 3/24/2022 12:56:20 PM

AMHERST — New art installations, including youth activism art that could be painted on an electrical box and large murals that could line the East Common in East Amherst village center, are being proposed to town officials.

Members of the Amherst Sunrise Movement, made up mostly of high school and middle school students, recently approached the Public Art Commission to begin the process of painting a mural to spread awareness about climate change, to encourage residents to be active and vibrant, and to promote progressive activism.

Amrita Rutter, an Amherst Regional sophomore, said the main reason to do the mural is to focus on the climate emergency.

“We think a mural would not only address that and push people to be more active,” Rutter said.

In the main image they have created for one side of a utility box, a post-apocalyptic world would be on the left, if climate change is not addressed, while on the right side is an ideal world with flowers and life.

While supportive of the concept, Commission Chairman William Kaizen said he hopes Sunrise will get help from professional artists to make it a reality if an unpainted electrical box can be found. The commission has previously overseen a program in which several utility boxes have been turned into art.

“I think it’s a great idea if everything falls into place,” said committee member James Barnhill.

For the East Common, a project is proposed by local artists Eric Broudy and Gigi Barnhill that would be titled “Embracing Community.”

Under their plan, a series of 30 large vinyl murals, each 8 feet by 10 feet, would be displayed on 10 triangular structures on the lawn during spring and fall of 2023.

“The murals would be based on a theme,” Broudy said, with one possible theme being the concept of diversity.

The actual works would be solicited from public and private school students and modeled after a long-standing project in Bayfront Park in Sarasota, Florida, called “Embracing Our Differences.”

“I have to tell you that I absolutely adore this project,” District 2 Councilor Pat DeAngelis said at a Town Council meeting last November where the project was first presented. DeAngelis suggested the proponents confine their outreach to K-12 students.

“I think that the artwork that will come from this group of people will be startlingly challenging and wonderful.”

Get dog licenses

Dog licenses are available from the town clerk’s office for the year beginning April 1.

State law requires all dogs age six months or older to be licensed and wearing a tag. License fees are $15 for males and females, reduced to $5 for those pets that are spayed or neutered. Current rabies certificates for all dogs must also be presented.

Licenses can be renewed in person, by mail, online or by calling the town’s animal welfare officer at 413-478-7084.

Haunted housepresentation at library

An interactive presentation that will take people inside a haunted house will be held at the Woodbury Room at the Jones Library April 5 at 7 p.m.

“Visiting the Beyond” is a photographic journey by Curt Strutz that will take people through the properties, room by room, as he tells them of the haunted activity, history and personal experiences.

Due to capacity limits in the meeting room, seating for this presentation is limited, so those interested in attending should arrive early.

For more information, send email to Janet Ryan, head of programming at the library, at

Teacher librarian honoredby state association

Laura Luker, a teacher librarian at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley, is receiving a 2022 service award from the Massachusetts School Library Association.

The award honors a member’s commitment and dedication in service to the association, which aims to have school library programs fully integrated at all grade levels across the curriculum and make a significant and measurable impact on student achievement.

Luker’s roles have included various positions on the association’s executive board, including serving as president from 2019 to 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, and helping keep the association intact and financially healthy.

Her leadership featured virtual professional development and an annual conference that was entirely remote. The association also describes Luker as being “as unruffled as ever” and bringing a calm and confident demeanor to her leadership.

The award will be made at the annual conference held March 26 to March 28.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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