The new Beal Elementary School now under construction in Shrewsbury will be a very welcome replacement for the current 100-year-old school. Like all of LPA|A’s school projects, the building will reflect the needs and desires of the community. We are looking forward to bringing the K-4 school into the 21st Century.
There is, however, a particular element of the current school that the school community does not want to part with: a beloved mural that has enlivened the corridor of the school since 2005. Painted by well-known children’s book author and illustrator Peter Reynolds, it has become a part of the school identity. Its message, “Make your mark and see where it takes you...” serves as ever-present encouragement for students to explore their passions and express their creativity.
Because the mural was painted directly on the wall, saving the artwork was a challenge in need of a creative solution. LPA|A worked with a local photographer to capture the painting so that it could be reproduced to scale and installed in the new school. The plan is to have the work located in a busy lower lobby area.
It was additionally the hope of the district and the design team to bring something similarly inspiring and visually interesting as a focal point for the main entrance of the new school. LPA|A approached Peter Reynolds to see if he would be interested in once again creating something original for the new school. To everyone’s delight, Peter was excited about the possibility.
“I’m honored to be a part of this amazing new school, Peter said. “I feel a special connection to Beal having painted a mural in the halls of the old building many years ago. My work for the last 25 years has been all around creativity and helping every child navigate their potential. It is my hope that my art will inspire the next generation to be uplifted and to lift up others as they journey together. ”
Another key contributor making the project possible is well-known Shrewsbury philanthropist Robert “Chief Joseph” Terkanian, who stepped up with financial support for not only the mural, but also some sculptures to be placed in an outdoor space on the site. His generosity and love of art can be seen throughout the community, including in the children’s courtyard of the Shrewsbury Public Library which features sculptures and paintings he personally funded.
The impact of his philanthropy on the generations of students who will be enriched by this artwork is impossible to measure, as is the gratitude felt by the town and the team on this project.
“It is going to be extraordinary to have an artist of this stature, Peter Reynolds, having a signature, original piece of art in the school,” said Shrewsbury Superintendent Joseph Sawyer. “It will be remarkable and I want to thank, of course, Mr. Terkanian for his generosity that will make that possible, as well as some of the landscape architecture elements for which he is so well known in town. On behalf of everyone on the School Department I want to say a big ‘thank you’ and we are very excited about this coming to fruition.”
The new mural is still in development but is planned to extend along the main lobby in sections, stretching from the entry, across two floors and into the media center. The new school will open in 2021.