Route 8 rest stop retaining wall in Cheshire

The nearly 450-foot-long retaining wall at a rest stop along Route 8 in Cheshire will be the canvas for a mural. Under the umbrella of the Cheshire Community Association, three women are leading the project that aims to grab the attention of motorists.

CHESHIRE — An artistic collaboration is ready to transform a dreary, lengthy roadside retaining wall into a colorful mural.

Under the umbrella of the Cheshire Community Association, three women are leading the project that aims to grab the attention of motorists at the Route 8 rest stop across from Cheshire Lake, about a quarter-mile north of Whitney’s Farm Market and Garden Center.

Jill Reynolds — she is an artist and owner of Cheshire Glassworks — conceived of the artistic endeavor, titled “Wildlife Through the Season,” featuring flora and fauna of the Berkshires in all four seasons.

Reynolds says that, for more than a decade, she and her husband, Jeff, have been eyeing the gray, drab spot as a potential piece of art.

“Seeing all the murals in Pittsfield and North Adams, why not paint ugly walls elsewhere?” asked the lifelong Cheshire resident. “I love art, I love color ... the wall would look awesome painted.”

Pittsfield artist Stephanie Quetti, assisted by another well-known area muralist, Matt Carty, was tagged to transform the 438-foot-long concrete structure — it’s about the length of 1½ football fields — into a work of art.

“It will be my largest to scale to date, but it’s manageable,” said Quetti, who has five murals to her credit. “It will bring a little bit of joy when you drive Route 8; look to the left and you’ll see the lake; look to the right and you’ll see a mirror image.”

Quetti plans this weekend to have the wall power washed and the surface prepped for painting. Reynolds is excited about what Quetti has in mind, based on the artist’s sketches of the mural.

“I think it will be a perfect fit, exactly what I would have drawn,” she said.

The third key organizer behind the mural is Maureen Riley Moriarty, who worked her way through the red tape to secure a permit from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, since Route 8 is a state highway.

Also, she wrote the grant to land a $4,300 award from the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, money to pay for related expenses.

Riley Moriarty has attended Cheshire Select Board meetings to keep town officials abreast of the project’s progress.

Organizers hope the project becomes more community based by virtue of people donating paint or helping to paint the mural. Those who want to donate paint can contact Riley Moriarty at mrm@usa.com

“Usually, once a mural gets started, the momentum builds and people want to get involved,” Quetti said.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com.