ARTICLE: Easthampton Mural (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

EASTHAMPTON – An outdoor mural slated to be painted in the spring will give Cottage Street a new look. Easthampton City Arts this month unanimously voted to award a $3,000 to Northampton-based graphic designer Tom Pappalardo to paint his design on the outer wall of 75 Cottage St., which houses Whiskerz Pub and faces a municipal parking lot.

The building is owned by Joseph Defazio, George and Marsha Bailey, and Jeremy Hewat, according to the Hampshire County Registry of Deeds. City Arts Coordinator Ellen Koteen said the owners responded “enthusiastically” to their mural request last year. Pappalardo, who works under the name of his one-man company, Standard Design, said Thursday that the project will be a first for him.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” he said. “It’s totally cool.” Pappalardo also does animation work and draws the comic “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” that appears weekly in the Valley Advocate.

Creatively dodging eight windows located on the wall, Pappalardo’s design spells out ‘Easthampton’ and ‘Massachusetts’ in a four-color scheme. “It was tricky ,” he said. “I approached it as a pure typographic challenge.”

Board member Jean-Pierre Pasche of Eastmont Custom Framing described Pappalardo’s use of the wall as “clever,” which is part of the reason that his proposal was accepted. “One of the positive points about that project was that it was using the wall to its fullest,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a striking image.” City Arts originally solicited submissions with a theme of the “evolving mosaic of Easthampton,” but realized once submissions started coming in that the constraints of the brick canvass may pose a problem for a landscape or very detailed concept, Koteen said. After a round of submissions that the jury committee did not favor, a new round brought in four new submissions. Koteen said that a painting by the Amherst-based group Get Up Get Down depicting the history of the city from its native inhabitants to the future was the board’s second choice. Koteen, who was not on the jury committee, described the winning design as simple yet dramatic.

“I like it a lot,” she said. “It’s very creative.” The money that will pay the artist comes mostly from the state Cultural Council but also from a $500 local Cultural Council grant, which will pay for supplies. The wall will likely be powerwashed and primed in March, and the painting work would start soon after, Koteen said.

– Matt Pilon