Mural artist brightens up Northampton Bike Path

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    Once completed, Northampton visual artist Kim Carlino’s "Blossoms" public art installation will adorn the intersections on the Mass Central Rail Trail in Florence, MA. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI

  • Northampton artist Kim Carlino works on her “Blossoms” public mural Saturday on the Mass Central Rail Trail, a project that requires patience and coordination with passing pedestrians and cyclists, in Florence. FOR THE GAZETTE/SABATO VISCONTI PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 5/9/2021 7:39:19 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A new series of murals is greeting cyclists and pedestrians on a stretch of the Northampton Bike Path in Florence.

The 10 murals, painted by Northampton artist Kim Carlino, line the bike path from Straw Avenue to Bardwell Street and feature bright, floral imagery at the intersections of the path and roadways.

Carlino, who was commissioned by the Northampton Public Art Committee to paint the murals, envisioned the asphalt paintings as “entry points and exit points” to the bike path in “folk-inspired, simplified, playful forms.”

“I like to think about how a site is being used, and then having some kind of form that makes sense of that,” Carlino said. “So I started thinking about them as directional, but as a way to be really bright and fun and kind of alert you that you’re coming to an intersection.”

Overall, Carlino, working with three assistants, painted 10 sets of murals at the intersections of the path with five streets: Straw Avenue, Chestnut Street, Keyes Street, North Maple Street and Bardwell Street. The asphalt artwork was completed over the course of three days, and begins with a “Welcome to Florence” message on Straw Avenue.

For Carlino’s latest project, the Northampton Public Art Committee already had flower designs in mind. Carlino, who has an interest in plant identification, felt well-prepared to take on the project.

Locals and visitors have likely seen Carlino’s art around the city already: In 2019, she painted the mural just off Main Street on Cracker Barrel Alley, and last summer painted some of the barriers used to section off outdoor dining spaces. Carlino has also painted murals in Springfield and Brattleboro, Vermont. Painting in the Valley, where Carlino has lived for almost two decades, and seeing people interact with the artwork takes on a special significance, she said.

Carlino also hopes that the asphalt mirrors will provide the path’s users with a fresh experience of what may be a familiar route.

“One of the aspects I like about doing pieces on the street or sidewalk is that it can be a little unexpected,” Carlino said. “Maybe if it were on the side (of a wall) you might miss it.”

On the ground, “It’s a different experience of moving through the art instead of going by it, or looking at it if it’s in front of you,” she continued. “I would want (the murals) to kind of disrupt the daily routine you are in and maybe surprise you a little bit.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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