Mural of Historic Calais Completed

By Lura Jackson

 

Artist Amy Bartlett Wright poses next to her nearly-completed mural of historic Calais. The 14' by 65' mural spans the side of the Calais Community Thrift Store downtown, including a 30' rendition of the famous steamship, the Rose Standish. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

A window into the past has been completed giving all downtown visitors the opportunity to appreciate the history of Calais. A 14’ by 65’ mural can now be seen on the side of the Calais Community Thrift Store, including a 30’ rendition of the famous local steamship, the Rose Standish. 

The mural is the work of Rhode Island artist Amy Bartlett Wright, who was selected for the task by a committee after submitting the winning design. Funds for the mural were granted to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry by the Charles G. Wright Endowment for the Humanities. The food pantry was given the thrift store building earlier this year and has since been hard at work transforming it into a fully functioning resource for the community. 

Bartlett Wright said that the response from visitors during the painting process has been overwhelmingly positive. Once she added the name of the vessel, a beaming gentleman yelled from his vehicle that his mother had been a regular on the Rose Standish. Many others have stopped to share some of the history of the vessel with her, including how townsfolk would board it from Steamboat Street, giving them an active, constant connection with the outside world. 

Painting Calais in its heyday has provided Bartlett Wright with an impression of the stark contrast between its past and its present. “I went down to the River and tried to imagine seeing this sight. It’s very different today.”

Since beginning the painting, Bartlett Wright has incorporated a few changes based on her observations. One has been the coloration of the water, which she made sure to depict with greens and reds to match what she was seeing in the River and in Eastport. The result superbly captures the dynamic nature of the local waterway, which shifts in color corresponding to its salinity. 

The colors of the mural as a whole are very bright, something Bartlett Wright was sure to emphasize. “Even though it shows a scene from a hundred years ago, it has a contemporary feeling,” she explains. “I wanted the people of today to appreciate it.

 

“This isn’t your grandmother’s mural,” she jested. “It’s a wonderful addition to downtown,” Len Hanson of the food pantry said. “We can’t thank the Charles G. Wright Endowment for the Humanities enough for the gift. Hopefully it will bring people downtown to patronize some businesses.” The food pantry will be providing picnic tables and benches next to the mural to encourage visitors to sit alongside the city’s newest and largest piece of commemorative art.