Beyond Walls climbs to new heights

April 5, 2018 : The Daily Item, by Bill Brotherton

LYNN — More than 500 supporters of the city of Lynn and arts and culture crowded into the Lynn Museum Thursday night to champion the second season kickoff of Beyond Walls.

It took Al Wilson, the driving force behind the art and lighting project that transformed the downtown last summer, eons to reach the podium. But when he did, attendees erupted in extended applause. Forget “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Wilson exuded more star power than John Legend did in that NBC extravaganza. He took longer to appear on stage than did Axl Rose during the heyday of Guns N’ Roses, but that did not deter many attendees from pledging sizable donations on the spot to help fund more murals and art for downtown.

Beyond Walls has started a fundraising Patronicity campaign that seeks to raise $50,000 by May 31. If that money is donated by that date, MassDevelopment will match that amount.

Wilson said this summer’s plans will build on 2017’s success. Top international and local artists will again be invited to paint murals on the walls of 10 buildings downtown. Murals on two buildings painted back in the 1940s will be revitalized. One will be on the back side of Zimman’s on Market Street. As many as eight artists will be sought to create mixed media artwork throughout downtown. Finally, a request for proposal will be filed that will encourage and invite arts organizations throughout Essex County to participate in the Aug. 6-19 Beyond Walls unveiling/celebration. Forty-two events are planned during that time period.

“Our commitment is to the city of Lynn and the organizations like Raw Art Works, Arts After Hours, the Lynn YMCA … that have been working to better our community for a long time,” said Wilson. “A lot of other mayors have come calling, and we are always open to collaborations, but our primary commitment will always be  to bettering the economic opportunities in the city of Lynn.”

Pedro Soto, associate director of Beyond Walls, said Mayor/then State Rep. Thomas M. McGee was the first person to publicly endorse Beyond Walls a year ago. “That opened doors for us,” Soto said.

Last night, McGee pledged continued support for the project that has helped transform the downtown.

A long line of attendees snaked through the museum’s first floor, eagerly sampling food and beverages from April’s Pub & Grill, Barton and Guestier, Bent Water Brewing Co., Brother’s Deli, Capitol Diner, Casa Lola, Charlie’s Junction Deli, Enzo’s Pizzeria, John’s Roast Beef, Land of a Thousand Hills, Los Chamos, Nightshade, Old Tyme Italian Cuisine, Porthole Pub, Short Path Distillery, Tacos Lupita and the Blue Ox.