The village will apply for an arts grant to pay for a mural on the McClure Moving and Storage building along Lincoln Street.
Trustee Elaine Sopchak has led efforts to secure permission from the company to host a large art installation that would be visible from the multi-use path.
“I thought it would be a really neat opportunity to both beautify the area and begin to introduce public art into the village, because we really don’t have any of that,” Sopchak said.
She went on to cite recent arts-based developments, like the introduction of SteAmFest and the opening of several studios, as proof people are interested in bringing more creativity into the public sphere.
“People are interested,” Sopchak said. “It would be really great to start embracing art more publicly.”
The trustees have tentatively agreed to use money from its economic development fund, raised by 1 cent on the tax rate, to cover some of the costs. And Sopchak, with the help of economic development and community relations assistant Darby Mayville, plans to write a letter of intent to the Vermont Arts Council, which annually distributes a $15,000 grant to bring art to existing or proposed infrastructure projects.
“From public bike racks and solar panels to a new bridge, the intent of the program is to renew a sense of pride for and connection to place through the development of community-centered public art that reflects the vision, values and creative spirit of Vermont communities,” the council’s grant guidelines say.
If chosen, the village can submit a full application in the spring, Sopchak said. She and Mayville have already formed a committee to help guide the project, including several art teachers from Essex schools and members of the Essex Historical Society. Noting the grant’s competitiveness, Sopchak hopes the village can pursue the mural even if it doesn’t secure the grant, but she said that will be a decision for the trustees.
Since the grant encourages public engagement, the group is trying to come up with ways to get the community involved, like possibly inviting residents to vote on several concepts. She said a lot will depend on the chosen artist; the village plans to submit a request for proposal to find a qualified muralist.
The committee has yet to decide on a theme, but Sopchak believes it may be a good opportunity to “artistically figure out a way to tell the story of how Essex is one community.”
“It could be a means for us to express our thoughts and feelings about our togetherness in a way that’s very, very different from how we’ve been doing it for the last many years,” she added.