Valley News – Art project lights up western Lebanon with birdhouses

Posted: 04/27/2021 03:14:18
Modified: 04/27/2021 03:14:17

WEST LEBANON — If you’re walking by Kilton Public Library this week, be sure to look up.

In the trees that is. This is where you will see brightly painted birdhouses created by community members as part of the West Lebanon Birdhouse Project. On Sunday, eight birdhouses awaited winged occupants in the trees around the library in downtown western Lebanon. Dozens more are expected to join them in the coming months as part of a public art project led by Kim Wenger Hall and Chet Clem, with support from the AVA Gallery and Art Center.

“We expect more birdhouses to come,” said Wenger Hall, an artist and yoga teacher who lives in western Lebanon. “The idea is just to start something that people can participate in and add to.”

The group that gathered at River Park Sunday morning at 8 a.m. was small but enthusiastic. Among them were Lauren Farrar and Sol Pitarque, who are neighbors in western Lebanon. They are part of a group of people who work together on craft projects and have spouses who attend the Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth. “We do a lot of crafts together,” said Farrar, who heard about the project on Facebook.

Farrar’s birdhouse had a checkered roof and Pitarque’s was painted bright pink.

“I’m delighted to see him in the city,” said Pitarque.

The kits were $10 each, which covered supplies. More than 100 people registered to participate. AVA Gallery has helped fund scholarships. Participants could either bring their completed birdhouses to River Park along Highway 10 on Sunday morning or hang them themselves. Participants also received a bag of wildflower seeds to add extra color.

“It’s kind of an unintended scavenger hunt,” Clem said. “The best thing it has accomplished so far has been connecting people.”

Wenger Hall reached out to Clem after contacting her about a mural project he was considering for his Lyme Properties office in West Lebanon. The two quickly started talking about ways to beautify western Lebanon with public art.

“Western Lebanon needs colors. It needs foot traffic,” Wenger Hall said. “He needs art.”

The birdhouse project – which Clem described as “a bright splash of spring” – is part of a series of initiatives to revitalize and beautify the city center of western Lebanon. Over the past holiday, Devon Blanchard put up a light display at Kilton Library. Another project that has been underway for years is the expansion of the Mascoma River Greenway.

“The mindset was honestly, we don’t have to wait,” Clem said. “You have just started and I hope this will create momentum and more creativity.”

Editor’s note: For more information on the West Lebanon Birdhouse project, visit westleb.org/birdhouse or email Wenger Hall for a kit at [email protected] Liz Sauchelli can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3221.

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