The community of Bowdoinham recently built a beautiful, small skateboard park dedicated in memory of Matthew Townsend Parker, who died of viral encephalitis and viral meningitis at the age of 15 in 2004. Since Matthew’s death, efforts to build the park finally came to fruition in 2017. The park is on the Cathance River waterfront in the center of town. Bricks inscribed with donor names comprise the walkway leading into the park, which is surrounded by a wooden fence.
The Merrymeeting Art Center (MAC) in Bowdoinham prioritized the participation of students in creating a mural. They obtained funding for a mural on the inside wall of the park via a grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Three artists were chosen for the project: Jane Page-Conway, mixed media artist, Manon Whittlesay, printmaker, and Karen Goetting, art teacher at the Bowdoinham Community School (BCS).
The fence wall is large, rough and obstructed by support structures on its inner side. This complicated the project’s design. The artists decided that the mural would be made by painting skateboard decks (without the wheels) and then placing them on the fence. They had a local wood worker; Paul Baines, cut the skateboard decks from primed wood.
They had many sessions with the students from Kindergarten thru fifth grade during Karen’s art classes, over a period of 4 weeks. Discussions occurred regarding the physicality and energy of a skateboarder and how one might visually portray this with lines, shapes, color and texture on the boards. Students were limited to two primary colors and no use of symbols or words.
Demonstrations were given on how to use thick paste paints to create pattern and texture with sponge brushes and tools to drag through the paints with cut up plastic lids, pencil erasers, combs and fingers. There were several sessions of cutting stamps for printmaking. The stamps were used following the painting sessions.
The boards are spectacular and will be installed on the fence in the springtime. One boy exclaimed “I can’t wait to see all of the cool skateboards on the fence for the public people to see. I will be able to see all of the boards that were made in my class. I think that the skateboarders will really like looking at this art while they are skating.”
The children of BCS are proud of their artwork and are eager to see what the installation will soon look like.