Kutztown residents helped paint a community mural on the exterior of Betty’s on Main Street as part of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project.
“Our goal is to keep a sustainable town and make it more livable with holistic endeavors and community building projects. We have beautification initiatives so this is one. The whole idea of it being flowers ties in with our native plant garden,” said Kutztown Thriving chair Caecilia Holt.
Kutztown Community Partnership’s Kutztown Thriving committee initially scheduled the mural installation to be held during the Community Block Party in May but weather delayed painting. Weather rescheduled painting dates several times until Kutztown Thriving was able to invite residents to paint during Dinner on Main on Aug. 2, but rain halted painting in the middle of the event. A follow-up painting day was held Aug. 4 on Kutztown Day.
“Lots of people have been stopping by. They’ve been excited. Lots of smiles and really happy to participate, saying how pretty it is,” said Robyn Underwood of Kutztown Thriving, who chaired the project with Jackie Downing. “I like that it is part of something bigger than Kutztown (part of the Thousand Flowers Project) and I like that the community is involved. I like that it’s brightening up the town.”
Kris Tuerk, Kutztown Middle School art teacher and a member of the Kutztown community, came out on the second day of painting.
“It felt exhilarating to be a part of the community. Even just to do four petals, it felt wonderful. I felt that I have to be here,” said Tuerk, who is happy that Kutztown has a community mural on Main Street now.
“It adds to the art community and it adds to the community spirit. It adds the fact that people were stopping as they were driving by and coming to participate so that they can say I painted that petal and I was a part of that,” said Tuerk.
Building owner Mitchell Henry previously told Berks-Mont during the project announcement in spring that the Ten Thousand Flowers Project is a great way for the Kutztown community to get together and make a difference.
“We were thrilled to be able to participate in this project,” said Henry. “One of the great things is with the simple design and the artist’s help, children of all ages may participate and have some fun with it! We love the Kutztown community and hope this will entice others to participate in other projects to bring more people to the area to enjoy all it has to offer.”
Rachel Lambdin, owner of Betty’s, joined in the painting, and spoke about the project during the Aug. 4 event. Two of her three children were old enough to paint petals which made the mural even more special.
“I am beyond thrilled. It sort of matches the personality of our business. And just to be a part of something community driven like this is just really wonderful,” said Lambdin. “People stop me elsewhere in other parts of the town to tell me how nice it looks and I think it’s going to make for a really neat spot for people to take pictures and just to remember our town.”
Thanking Kutztown Thriving and the mural creator, Lambdin said, “Thanks for having the idea and for bringing everybody together. There’s nothing quite like it, it’s really remarkable.”
Artist Tim Gibson, Ten Thousand Flowers Project founder and creator, said the project first took shape in June 2018 in his home town of Perkasie, while designing a mural that involved the community. Once approved, he realized that the mural’s universal style could be reproduced anywhere.
The flower motif and mission stems from Keith Haring’s style and Haring’s belief that art should be accessible to everyone.
“I’m a huge Keith Haring fan. This is his hometown so I was super excited about that. I pulled a little bit of inspiration from him for the style,” said Gibson, thanking Kutztown for allowing him to bring the project to Kutztown.
The mission is paint ten thousand flowers around the country, bringing communities together in all 50 states.
“I like the idea that each mural is one piece of a giant puzzle. They’re not a bunch of individual murals around the country; it’s one giant mural broken up into sections,” said Gibson. “The flower that leans off the one wall here in Kutztown was from the last one we did in Massachusetts last week. At the end, we’ll be able to take a picture of each one and splice them together and it’ll all fit together like a puzzle.”
This summer the Ten Thousand Flowers Project traveled down the east coast for its first flower tour. Kutztown’s flowers are number 415 to 429 out of ten thousand flowers.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve gotten the same consistent, ‘It makes me smile,’ response, which is perfect,” said Gibson. “It’s a simple mission: make people happy, make people smile when they walk by.”
During the Kutztown installation Gibson saw strangers painting side-by-side, talking and laughing and often making plans to hang out after.
“That’s been my favorite part, is seeing friendships being made painting these murals,” said Gibson.
Follow the project on Instagram or Facebook @TenThousand FlowersProject.