Motif Monday- how about monumental murals at O’Maley by art school grads that were former alumni

The O’Maley Innovation Middle School campus setting is rather bucolic. There’s a line of apple trees that still bear fruit and suggest the original farm, playing fields are stepped down surrounded by marsh and pond, Dogtown stretches along one edge, and Pole Hill rises up across the way. Community volunteers and students have created lovely decorative gardens. Yes, the track needs work and the playing field could be upgraded to turf like Gloucester High School’s New Balance field at Newell Stadium. But it’s a beautiful spot to walk or catch a game. Ed Tedesco designed O’Maley in 1971. Although I believe the architect was quite sensitive to the setting, I understand how people criticize the exterior as harsh, or worse. “It feels like a prison!” exclaim some (and others joke. It is a middle school afterall.) You know what I see on the exterior when I come to O’Maley? Beautiful walls. Interesting shapes. Expansive public space ready for art and ideas.

O’Maley walls, photos from 2015

ideal canvas for murals by former alums now emerging artists art school grads - O'Maley Innovation Middle School Gloucester Mass- Feb 3 2016 ©c ryan_100917 (13)

You can’t judge a book by its cover. OR can you? O’Maley has the potential for its shell to match the creative arts and legacy at its core. There are stunning historic murals from the 1930s and 40s in the Commons. The arts curriculum is valued and celebrated. The arts teachers are amazing. If there is any school in Massachusetts that sings out arts and legacy, let it be here. Monumental public art and street art abound in Gloucester.

Parsons Street before, after, and after


public art in Gloucester, MA and context collages

Py$eMoNeY117- skribbleFish- 21st century -orphans-Gloucester-Massachusetts- ©c ryan_20170107_114218.jpg
Py$eMoNeY117 21st Century Orphans, Gloucester, MA, Skribble Fish – graffiti art – not street art

And not just for flat surfaces. Artists have suggested creative responses to Americord’s striated surface like a piano keys mural along the wall (a motif you may have seen elsewhere); others proposed a changing light installation when the cultural district designation was underway. 

Stephanie Benenson’s temporary installation Harbor Voices at City Hall

Stephanie Benenson Gloucester MA Harbor Voices temporary public art light social sculpture immersive at City Hall.gif

Street art has become big business. Cities and towns around the world vie for renowned muralists in a competitive commercialized market with varying degrees of success.


I vote Former Alumni

O’Maley Innovation Middle School has the perfect walls for showcasing creative voices of former alumni who are art school grads (or currently enrolled)– professionally trained and inspired to leave a mark. Ever since the dynamite 18UP and Under 30 exhibition, supporters hoped to catalyze possibilities for these emerging artists. Murals taken to this scale warrant investments of $15,000 per artist per wall.

Jason Burroughs

just a few of the grads…Chris Budrow | Kate BresnahanJason Burroughs | Lexi Chipperini |Jon Cooney | Jeff Cluett | James Curcuru | Nicole Dahlmer | Leon Doucette | Alessia LoGrasso | Avery McNiff | Micah O’Conner| Mary Sullivan

Before I saw walls of possibility. I still see that, but now I imagine specific artists and I hope you do, too. There are plenty of walls to go around at O’Maley.

a few more international street art mural examples

After I saw a tiny Brian Murphy wire scupture, I pictured a monumental version for one of the walls around town.

brian murphy gloucester.jpg

14 thoughts on “Motif Monday- how about monumental murals at O’Maley by art school grads that were former alumni

  1. Murals and artwork sounds amazing! Love the idea! I think the murals of icons (Lincoln, MLK, and Mother Teresa) at Fuller should find their new home at O’Maley, unless they’ve been ruined already.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine, “Thank You”

    Excellent post and love the designs murals. They do a log of that this way around the school walls and I am a big fan of this sense pride and belongs. These are very nice like I said my kind of art as it tells a story and history while making things special! 🙂 Dave & Kim :_)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Richmond VA has the most amazing, expansive mural walk that has transformed the city into a premier art destination. Beautiful, real art, nothing cheesy or political, that fits right in along side dating “ghost signs”. I’m not so sure about painting the brick at O’Malley but Ive often expressed how nice is would be to add murals to some of the cities uglier buildings. I wouldn’t limit the competition to Gloucester alumni only – I’d go for for world class. The concept of feet on the street has helped bring foot traffic into all parts of the city, helping local businesses thrive. lGoogle Richmond Mural Project

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Catherine, what a wonderful idea. Thank you. One or more murals at O’Maley would make it feel more welcoming and emphasize the “innovation” in “O’Maley Innovation Middle School.” We are about to paint a public, outdoor mural at the university where I work (Joey’s alma mater). Here is a “how to” article on painting murals at schools. I love this line from it: “Many schools have discovered that murals not only beautify buildings but also inspire community pride among students.”

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  5. Thanks Catherine for reminding people about the amazing talented over 18 under 30 year olds we have in Gloucester and really how important it is to give our young artists encouragement and the opportunity to create here. They have the ability and the skills to do the work needed and who knows we may have that future World class artist in our midst.
    I can think of a few that have already been recognized and gone on to do great things since we had the Pop Up show. I think it was obvious to all who attended that we have great talent locally in our young artists… Lets make sure we offer them the opportunity to stay here and create!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. No Denise, in Catherine’s post she has photos of the Pop Up we did 2years ago and that is what I am referencing here but I personally feel that we have some of the best young artists around and we should be encouraging their involvement and offering them the chance to work and create here. The younger artists may also encourage our youth to also follow their creative path. It’s a win win for our city and our youth in my opinion. Let’s keep our younger artists creating on Cape Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true and that’s what’ special Mentorship, encouragement, and guidance from those who have guided them! I see this during April Month of military child quoted “Just like dandelions, they blossom wherever they land.” 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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