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New Bangor mural vibrantly illustrates downtown’s natural world

The mural features more than 10 different species found along the neighboring Kenduskeag Stream Trail.
Credit: NCM

BANGOR, Maine — Downtown Bangor just became a little more colorful this week.

Rock & Art Shop co-owner Annette Dodd, in collaboration with Midcoast artist Peter Walls, put the finishing touches on a vibrant, nature-inspired mural on Franklin Street Wednesday afternoon.

The mural, behind the Bangor Post Office and Penobscot County Sherriff’s Office, features a wide array of vibrant, painted illustrations of local wildlife that find their home along the Kenduskeag Stream which runs through downtown Bangor.  

Credit: NCM
The mural serves as a colorful gateway to the Franklin Street entrance of the Kenduskeag Stream Trail.

Dodd told NEWS CENTER Maine that she and Walls began work on the mural a year ago, a second collaboration for the pair after holding an exhibition featuring 26 shaped panel landscape paintings by Walls in the Rock & Art Shop’s Sohns Gallery space.

For the mural, Walls created six waterproof marine plywood panels painted during the winter months, then weatherized in the spring. Later, they were installed alongside Dodd’s illustrative and color-block painting work done over the last three weeks.

Dodd said many of the creatures selected came from both memories and serendipitous encounters while walking along the Kenduskeag.

“I know Peter chose the golden-eyed duck because he was walking on the Kenduskeag Stream Trail thinking of what he should paint, and there was a golden-eyed duck. He was like, 'Well, I guess I’m going to paint this,’” Dodd said.

The Kenduskeag Stream mural is dedicated to Dodd’s late brother, Tony Sohns, known for his passion for teaching and connecting people with the great outdoors.

Sohns was a natural history educator who regularly took kids, classes, and families on the Kenduskeag Stream Trail to teach about the hidden life within his community, Dodd said.

“I just remember going on those walks with him, and all the things, you know, memories of him teaching,” Dodd said. “He passed away a few years ago, and when I was painting the mural, it was so obvious: the things that I know about the stream come from my brother’s knowledge.”

Dodd hopes the mural serves as an opportunity make people curious about the natural world, similar to her brother’s work in the community.

“I meant [the mural] to be in honor of the Kenduskeag Stream Trail, but really, when it’s done, I realized how much it is a draw and great gateway to the stream trail. [It is] is so beautiful right now, so hopefully, people get out to enjoy both the mural and the stream trail,” Dodd said.

Credit: NCM
The mural wraps the back exit of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and Bangor Post Office.

This mural comes as one of many artistic installations in downtown Bangor over the past few years, by Dodd and others, and was funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

Other funding came from the sales of the Rock & Art Shop’s “Greetings From Bangor, Maine” merchandise, referencing another large-scale mural on the opposite end of downtown.

Aside from coordinating large-scale painted murals, Dodd also started the large-scale Wheat-Paste Mural Initiative through the Downtown Bangor Partnership, which takes place during the summer, and is now run by Launchpad.

The wheat-paste project has wrapped up its artists-call for the its 2022 run and is anticipated to announce selected artists once all have been notified, as stated under a Facebook post from late May.

Dodd said she is in the process of working on another artistic collaboration downtown. Once logistics are finalized, she’s looking forward to spreading the word.

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