Adams Arts Advisory Board uses art in battle against blight

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ADAMS — A group of volunteers is tackling blighted property with art, not bulldozers.

The Adams Arts Advisory Board, working with Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco, has plastered the facade of the blighted two-family house at 18 Victory St. with a banner designed by local artist George LeMaitre.

The banner will remain on display on the house until it's presumably sold at auction on Dec. 2. By creating a banner and by not painting directly on the property, the art can be taken down and reused after the house changes ownership.

The Arts Advisory Board hopes to continue the program with other rundown, town-owned properties. It sees the artwork as a temporary solution that beautifies blighted properties until they can be sold at the public auction, according to board President Francie Riley.

"It certainly cost the town less than it would have to send town workers over there and paint it and clean it up," Riley said.

The banner on the Victory Street house reflects the history of the street as a home to more than 40 soldiers during World War II, according to the board. The name Victory Street, formerly known as George Street, was changed on March 22, 1944, to honor the 27 resident families with relatives fighting in the war. Photos from that time published in the North Adams Transcript depict the mothers and sisters of soldiers holding military service star flags, which served as the inspiration for LeMaitre's banner design.

"The design is taken entirely from the history of the street, which I think is very important, but doesn't mean it can't be reused elsewhere," Riley said.

Initially, Mazzucco had asked the board to paint the buildings directly, but the board ultimately decided that the best way to move forward would be with a durable, reusable banner.

From the initial request to the completion of the banner, it took less than three months to complete the project.

In the future, the board hopes to put out an all-call to artists who would have an interest in designing a banner.

Those interested in joining the Adams Arts Advisory Board's efforts can find them on Facebook or visit their weekly Wednesday meetings at 9:30 a.m. in Izzy's Diner in Adams. They can be reached via email at artsinadams@gmail.com.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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