Trout Mural to Brighten Bethel

  • Mary Lacy talks about her art and painting with children in Bethel’s One Planet Summer Camp; for two days in July, the children helped paint pieces of the largest fish. (Rebecca Sanborn Stone photograph) Rebecca Sanborn Stone photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2017 11:40:42 PM
Modified: 7/13/2017 11:40:51 PM

Bethel — Members of the public this weekend can help create some art work and add a splash of color to a drab retaining wall as part of a program to highlight the White River and bring new life to downtown Bethel.

The Bethel Revitalization Initiative this spring won a $15,000 “animating infrastructure” grant to fund three public art projects, including an extended 200-foot mural featuring rainbow and brook trout that will cover much of the retaining wall at the intersection of routes 12 and 107.

The mural has been designed by Jericho-based artist Mary Lacy as part of a 10-city national tour she is doing that includes animals in each project.

The Bethel Revitalization Initiative queried Bethel residents about what type of animal would help identify the town, and “trout was by far the winner,” said Rebecca Sanborn Stone, a Randolph-based consultant working on the project.

Lacy talked with children at the One Planet Summer Camp in Bethel, and about 30 kids spent two days this week priming and putting on a backing coat on the marine-grade plywood that have been fashioned into trout forms, Stone said.

Each of the three projects in Bethel play to the importance, and presence, of the White River to the community.

The other projects that are part of the $15,000 grant from the Vermont Arts Council are sculptural benches for downtown green spaces that will be designed and built by Bethel artist and woodworker Lindley Brainard and will mimic the curves of the river, and colorful banners for light poles designed by Bethel artist Teal Sallen that will feature icons of the town.

“They are all designed to celebrate the river and highlight it from Main Street and call attention to this great asset in town,” Stone said.

On Saturday, members of the public are invited to a “paint and picnic” party from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bethel Bandshell, where they can help paint the mural, which will later be installed on the retaining wall.

The event will also include free ice cream, games, the Arts Bus and a showcase of the other projects in progress. (In case of rain, the event will be held at the Bethel Schools.)

“Art has the power to accomplish many goals — from slowing traffic to beautifying downtown, from supporting businesses to creating more accessible public spaces,” Lylee Rauch-Kacenski, the artist coordinator for the three art projects and a member of the Bethel Revitalization Initiative, said in a news release.

The projects also build on last October’s Bethel “Better Block” program, a series of temporary street alterations to generate ideas on how to spruce up Main Street.

Besides receiving funding from the Vermont Arts Council, the arts projects have been assisted by officials with the town and with the Vermont Agency of Transportation, who helped with permitting and engineering issues, organizers said.

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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