Yarmouth Officials Seek to Expand Public Art

Courtesy of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce.

YARMOUTH – Residents and visitors in Yarmouth could soon be seeing more stenciled paintings on sidewalks and in parking lots as local arts backers are pushing for more public artwork.

The ground-level art began in the summer of 2018 with dandelion seed blowing in the wind as the stenciled art spread to libraries, parks and other places in town.

Lauren Wolk, the associate director for the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, said the paintings have been well received.

“They’re attractive, cheerful, and easy to produce,” Wolk said. “Materials consist of stencils and spray paint, with most of the work performed by volunteers.”

Individual stencils are approved by the Board of Selectmen, and funding comes from the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce via the town’s Tourism Revenue Preservation Fund. The fund is derived from local hotel and meals taxes.

The first stenciling project included the dandelion heads extending from parking lot divider lines, along with filmstrips painted on the sidewalk at the Cultural Center on Old Main Street.

The paintings held up through the winter.

The latest project includes herons and schools of fish at Packet Landing.

Wolk said the stencil artwork has been a success, but is only a start.

Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Vilbon says that a vibrant arts scene improves community aesthetics, attracts new visitors and bolsters the local economy.

“Public art is a destination in itself. It can be inspirational, educational, refer to an event or time, or just allow someone to imagine,” Vilbon said. “Communities across the state have embraced public art in their towns for years and it has been documented that there is a positive economic impact as well as a community investment.”

Wolk has a similar vision for South Yarmouth near the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

She said there has been a plan for years to create more of a village feel in South Yarmouth near the intersection of Route 28 and Old Main Street.

The site is within walking distance of restaurants, a deli, lodgings, condos, shopping, the Bass River Farmers Market and Packet Landing Park.

Wolk said it makes sense to create a dozen or so art projects in that area to develop an attraction for visitors and residents, but that it would be smart to wait until after several road construction projects are completed in the area in about four years.

Planners with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation have agreed to build pedestals that would display public art at either end of the new Bass River Bridge.

Wolk envisions sculptures of striped bass leaping out of the water as a visual tribute to the river’s name.

Yarmouth Town Planner Kathy Williams has worked closely with MassDOT and community stakeholders on the design of the new bridge, making suggestions that allow for artwork in the future.

“We were able to provide our input during the planning stages that will provide not only a functional bridge, but one that will be aesthetically pleasing,” Williams said.

Yarmouth is now looking to develop regulations that would facilitate artwork at public locations around town.

The first step in the process is collecting information from other communities with successful public art programs.

For now, parking lots and sidewalks will be filled with artwork with larger projects expected in the future.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the CapeCod.com NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.

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