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Alewife Arts Mural Project Begins
by Ellen Mass
Abridged in the Belmont Citizen Herald, July 23, 2003, as Students make murals for Alewife T

After two years of fund-raising, Friends of Alewife Reservation has begun a summer sketching, drawing, and environmental program at the Alewife Reservation and the Haggerty School entitled the Alewife Arts Mural Project. Eighty feet of painted environmental panels are planned for hanging at the Alewife MBTA stop facing Alewife Parkway. Nine students will learn and produce art through mid-August when the Mayor's Summer Youth program ends. All students applied and interviewed for the program. One Belmont student became involved through her high school's Community Service program. Cambridge high and middle school youth are presently taking walking and boating tours for 8 days from FAR naturalists such as authors of Audubon New England guidebook, Peter Alden; Alewife Ecology Guide, Stewart Sanders; and Mike Arnott, Appalachian Mountain Club. Department of Conservation and Recreation owners (formerly MDC) and City of Cambridge DPW will orient the youth about past and future of the Reservation. Former Belmont Hill Farm descendent, Lydia Ogilby brought young artists to her active vegetable farm on Glenn Rd., a remnant of the Reservation area. She recently gave the town her small farm in perpetuity for conservation land. Henry Hill once owned all of the Alewife Reservation as private cow pasture, orchards, and vegetables, and sold it at Faneuil Hall. She said that after the Maine-Fitchburg railroad, came in, things changed and the land became more developed, but the Alewife Reservation, after the clay pit period, grew wild and full of natural wonders. (See The Great Swamp, Sheila Cook)

Director of the summer project, muralist David Fichter, has created over 150 public murals throughout the country particularly in Cambridge. He continues the Mystic River Mural on Mystic Ave. in Somerville, expanding each year. The Alewife Mural project is a collaborative effort with FAR based on the interdisciplines of art and science. The Alewife mural project is supported by local corporations and businesses, such as Spaulding and Slye, Bulfinch Companies, Dodge Co, Wyeth, Bioengineering, Best Western Tria, Fresh Pond Trust, Montgomery Watson and Harza, Hillside Gardens, Tiax Co., Zeff Photo and other individuals.

Students have stated their hopes for the process and outcome of the project. Tina Groeger said, I've worked on a mural before and learned group painting process. I now want to learn more about the wildlife, and through my art, help bring awareness to influence others with the beauty of this area.

Says Anika Ahlberg: I draw in my spare time and want to learn public art techniques. If people realize we do have such a natural treasure in Cambridge, maybe they will become involved in preserving it. There are no worries I have about this project. Aimee Wang: I have to produce art. It is a valid message to me. I hope to gain an understanding of the Alewife area because I am from Belmont next to it. Humanity seems to have lost sight of our connection to nature which seems to be leading towards disaster. I hope we can encourage more appreciation for our natural spaces. Billy Andre: I love animals and I believe the Mural project will help me observe nature more closely. I am also hoping to develop a stronger appreciation for mural painting. Zack Milliga-Pate: I believe nature is the root of the world and its harmony. Our mural will alert community to the issues concerning the environment. Stacey Smith: As a Just- a- Start student, I learned to appreciate community projects. I love birds, rodents, amphibians and beetles as we are all on the same level of value. I look forward to learning different species while expanding my art skills. All too much technology has hurt our environment. I think Cambridge does not have enough trees and parks. We need to protect what we've got. Eva Joly: I am a city person and the mural is a great way to unify a community. This is my first time involved in a community arts project As a North Cambridge resident, I want to bring more public awareness to the Reservation, to learn new art skills and to being apart of the group arts process. Nathaniel Andre: I have been exploring nature with my mother recently I would like the mural to be beautiful, yet simple and unique. It should reflect the specialness of the Alewife Reservation for those living around it.