‘Windows on Main’a great community project

  • One of the pieces of art that was part of the original Windows On Main project.

Published: 9/11/2018 8:18:24 AM

The Millers River Environmental Center in Athol is looking for artists to produce “community artwork” to display in 14 of its basement windows.

Visual displays will hang in the highly visible windows of historic former school building at 100 Main St. For almost 20 years, members and friends of the Athol Bird and Nature Club have been transforming the school building into a museum and center for organizational meetings, as well as a place alive with natural history and activities.

Through a combined effort of organizations, local government and through the public’s support, the club has received a matching grant from Massachusetts Development’s “Commonwealth Places” program and Town of Athol to upgrade accessibility of the building, improve signage and reintroduce the “Windows On Main” community arts project.

The project’s original window panels were created by local artist M.E. Kane, celebrating Athol’s industrial heritage using motifs including the power of moving water, changing seasons and connection to the wild lands and wildlife adjacent to the town’s center.

Kane had depicted such scenes as Tully Lake, the 1938 Flood in downtown Athol, a blue heron, dragonflies of the region and more. Over the years, those works have faded, however, while the town heritage it depicted has not.

So, now the Millers River Environmental Center plans for new 54-inch-square panels to replace those older ones to fit the window spaces of this historic building and again proclaim the town’s story with images and art.

“Windows On Main” at 100 Main St. will continue to be the gateway for natural history, recreational, and tourist destinations at the Alan E. Rich Environmental Park, home of the accessible canoe/kayak dock, the Millers River Blue Trail, historic Fish Park with ball fields, tennis courts and the bandstand that comes alive with Tool Town Live performances every September.

The club is seeking local artists to submit a visual concept for one or more windows, which will enhance the historical, cultural and community identity of the center.

The club’s board of directors said it is looking forward to hearing ideas and getting the Windows on Main part of the project underway. And so are we.

This is a great community project and a great way to replace the creative vibe that the former display provided for visitors to the town. And what a showcase for the local talent. This is the kind of project that makes a downtown special, and fits right in to the kinds of projects being advanced by other groups like the Athol Downtown Vitality Committee.

With any luck, the Environmental Center will have such a turnout of artists, the town could find some other ways to display this local talent and make Athol’s downtown a more visually and artistically vibrant place.

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