Cape Cod groups work to install public art in Yarmouth
YARMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — Visitors to some of Yarmouth’s most popular destinations could soon see displays of art popping up in unlikely places — right beneath their feet.
“We need more public art in Yarmouth,” Cultural Center of Cape Cod Associate Director Lauren Wolk said. “We need more public art everywhere.”
Together with the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, the cultural center is working on installing about a dozen displays of stenciled artwork on parking lots and walkways near its own buildings and at town beaches, libraries, parks and golf courses.
The effort is the first phase of a wider initiative to make public art more pervasive on the Cape and could progress to include installations such as murals, sculptures and special lighting, according to Wolk.
A recent trip overseas drew Wolk’s attention to the fact that public art installations, which are common in cities across Europe and closer to home in places such as Philadelphia and Boston, would be a natural fit for the Cape.
“Public art is everywhere,” she said. “This place, which is known for its culture and its art, offers extraordinary opportunities for public art. We just need to make it happen.”
Thinking their own backyard would be the best place to start, cultural center staff approached the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce about funding for the project, according to Wolk.
The Chamber, which is contracted through the town of Yarmouth to receive tourism revenue preservation funds, has a specific line item dedicated to community enhancement, Director Mary Vilbon said.
“People love public art,” she said. “And they’ll travel to see it. We thought this was a great way to invest those dollars into community.”
Together, the organizations decided to test the waters with some low-cost installations that wouldn’t require the same extensive approval process that murals or sculptures might.
“We decided that the best way to make a little bit of money go a long way would be by stenciling,” Wolk said. “You end up with some pretty cool, not necessarily permanent, but long-lasting results that the public can see.”
The first stencils were installed last week at a sidewalk and parking lot on Union Street, where people visiting the cultural center, South Yarmouth Library and a weekly farmers market often park, according to Wolk. The Yarmouth Board of Selectmen gave approval for the stencils, which feature dandelion heads extending from parking lot lines and a filmstrip with a character in each frame that gives the appearance of a film unfolding along the sidewalk.
“It went extremely well,” Wolk said. “We’re getting great feedback from people.”
Plans for the next round of stencils include owls at the South Yarmouth and West Yarmouth library parking lots; a map of the world that notes the location of Yarmouth with the words ‘You are here’ at the Chamber of Commerce parking lot; and more installations at parking lots and walkways at Mill Creek Park, Flax Pond Recreation Area, Sandy Pond Recreation Area and the Bass River and Bayberry Hills golf courses.
The two organizations will seek approval for the stencils at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting and will involve leaders from the various locations in choosing the specific designs.
Eventually, a stencil trail could be developed to help residents and visitors find every installation in town, according to Wolk.
“Yarmouth has a lot of really gorgeous places that are a little bit off the beaten track,” she said. “We’d love to encourage people to seek them out.”
So far, about $1,000 has been spent on the project, according to Vilbon. After a worldwide request for stencil designs didn’t work out according to plan, cultural center staff purchased most of the initial stencils online.
“Our hope is that going forward, we’ll have enough funding and enough interest that local artists will come forward with designs that we can have made into stencils,” Wolk said.
The project has already received offers of help from numerous volunteers, and local businesses also could have a chance to get involved.
“The next phase could be talking to property owners or business owners to see if this might be something they would be interested in doing on their property,” Vilbon said. “I can’t wait to see where it goes.”
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com