Beyond Walls – Lynn, Massachusetts

This is a walk I’ve been wanting to make – camera in hand –  ever since I began noticing murals adorning the walls of downtown Lynn, Massachusetts. From the seat of my commuter train, I could view several murals, making me curious – what was this all about? I had little idea how extensive this project is.

Mural of a girl swimming

Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin… much to the resident’s chagrin, the old rhyme endures.
Lynn – a little bit gritty, a lot diverse – this small industrial city has its share of poverty and illegal drugs, as well as people who care – deeply.
Only a few miles up the coast from Boston, Lynn is one of the few remaining cities in the area where millennials can “afford” to live.

Mural - Love

During my months of transition, I spent a fair amount of time in Lynn, living with my daughter and walking to the train station each day. Last week I seized upon the opportunity to take my long-desired photo walk. Heading out first thing in the morning provided the opportunity to witness the city as it awakened.

Mural of Dominican woman in rollers

I wandered aimlessly on this gray morning – surprised by so many murals at every turn. I observed as the community came to life. Eyed wearily by some, others offered me a tentative smile; the man in the photo below was determined to assist me in finding as many murals as possible.

Ghosts of Lynn mural

He was actually quite helpful – locating a mural for me, that I had only been able to find from the platform of the train station.

mural

The mural, above, is my new favorite. I love everything about it – especially the little bird.

mural of bird

Although the lace on the girl’s dress and the light shining through the window aren’t too shabby, either.

little boy in front of mural

This one is enormous – I am showing only a small piece because I got a kick out of the little boy who kept running back and forth in front. It celebrates the history and diversity of the city.

I finished my “artist date” by sitting on the sidewalk of a local coffee shop, enjoying an iced coffee as I scrolled through my photos and doodled. And – because you know how I love my journals, I made myself a new one – pocket sized to take along on future excursions. And yes, there will most definitely be future artist dates.

journal page

Really, I shouldn’t be surprised by how much I enjoyed this outing – exploring the community, appreciating the art – unscheduled and unhurried. Beyond Walls is a non-profit organization that strives to bring communities together through art. I like that, too. I am not sure how many murals there are altogether – many, many more.. And so, my first week of retirement kicked off with a rousing start – I’m not hating it!

Your turn – how is your summer going? Do you schedule time for yourself to just explore art or your creativity?

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Can I just say that even without knowing the vital piece of information that you are retired now, I can tell the difference. The color and vibrance of your photos, but there is also a quality of thoughtfulness and being unrushed. Loved that you included people, especially that little boy, shows the amazing scale of these murals. They remind me a bit of the ones in Gary, Indiana from the workshop I went to last year. Although, I have a feeling that Gary is a bit more economical depressed than Lynn. Funny that both places have people names 🙂 I went out to a sunflower field today to shoot. I am taking Kim Klassen’s new photography class A Month of Multiples. Trying to get back into regular shooting with the big camera again.

  2. Debbie

    oh karen, i love, love, love these!!! there is a town nearby to me that has a lot of murals and i think they are the best. the mural with the robin was my favorite also….the young guy taking it all in was adorable, thanks for sharing that. i find talking to the locals to be so helpful…i pretty much talk to everyone anyway, i love people i don’t know!!! hehehehe…….my summer is going pretty well and i do set aside time to go for a ride in the car and take pictures of anything that “moves” me!!!

  3. Andy

    Congratulations… you found mural heaven.

  4. Beatrice

    Thanks, Karen, for showcasing this wonderful mural art. We have a similar group here in Nashua, NH, Positive Street Art, which has added some striking wall murals around the city. There are also various other murals around the city and one of my future walks will be to find as many as possible. We are enjoying the summer with long and short road trips which you seem to be enjoying now in retirement too. Life is so much more enjoyable when it is not as hurried.after reading this post and seeing these fantastic murals, a future road trip to Lynn, MA is in my future now.

  5. Barb

    Isn’t it wonderful to have time for discovery? Even sitting quietly at a coffee shop, watching and remembering is right up there on my good list! These murals are fabulous. They showcase such talent while also conveying an important message. Can’t wait to see where you ramble next on your new adventure. Here in the mountains of Colorado, temperatures are falling, I’m seeing wildflowers going to seed while a few of the hardier ones like asters are still vibrant. We spent a few days in Vail last week, hiking and EATING. Now it’s back to reality – no more rich chocolate desserts… Karen, I signed up for email notification of your posts but didn’t get one. I’m going to try again.

  6. Carola Bartz

    These are amazing murals – I’m trying to imagine how long it took to create them. They remind me of a small town on Vancouver Island (I forgot the name, I was there many years ago) that had some impressive murals and I still regret not having taken any photos (I was still shooting film at that time and very careful in how many pictures I took). I’m looking forward to seeing more artist dates!

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