The Kutztown Community Partnership’s Kutztown Thriving invites residents to help paint a community mural as part of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project.

“The collaborative mural process is a beautiful and easy way to involve people of all ages in the execution of the art. Murals make downtown experiences more memorable for our community members and visitors alike,” said Jackie Downing of Kutztown Thriving. “We will have something beautiful to look at as we drive by or walk past, and visitors to our community will have a place to take photos and something beautiful to recall as they remember their visit to our beautiful town.”

Downing noted that this mural, as part of a larger project, ties Kutztown to other communities as well.

“When complete, this mural will help to create one giant mural across the United States! The first flower on our mural will be the last flower from the previous mural. The last flower on our mural will be the first flower in the next location,” said Downing. “This is a great visual representation of our connection to one another, our surrounding communities, and our larger world.”

Project founder artist Tim Gibson said the goal of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project is to bring communities together by creating one giant flower mural, over a mile long, broken up into sections in towns all across America.

“I like to think of the project as creating one giant mural that’s broken up into over 100 pieces across the country. The mural is designed in a way that it trails off the sides of the wall and continues in the next town and so on and so on. Think of it like a giant puzzle, with each town representing one piece,” he said.

Gibson explained that the project first took shape in June 2018 in his home town of Perkasie, when the town events coordinator Linda Reed was looking for an artist to design a mural that involved the community.

“After the flower design was approved, I quickly realized that this could be something that could be reproduced anywhere in the world,” he said.

In June the Ten Thousand Flowers Project will travel down the east coast for its first flower tour, which will take about six months and stop in more than 20 towns. Follow the project on Instagram or Facebook @TenThousand FlowersProject.

The Kutztown mural will be the 7th installation in the project.

“I hope it provides an opportunity for the people of Kutztown to come together and create something unique that they can enjoy for generations to come,” said Gibson. “The thing I really love the most about the project is that it’s not just an artist that comes to a town, paints a wall and leaves. Every mural is painted by the community members of that town. I basically create a giant paint-by-numbers and volunteers, young and old, fill in the design and bring the mural to life. Afterwards, I’ll touch up any drips and outline the flowers in a bold outline. It’s amazing to step back and watch a 100-foot mural come to life in a matter of an hour or two.”

Gibson said Keith Haring’s style is a huge influence on the flower project.

“To have the Ten Thousand Flowers Project represented in the hometown of one of my idols is very exciting for me,” he said. “The way (Haring) views art, that it should be accessible to everyone, no matter where they come from, is something I try to represent in my mission.”

Kutztown’s mural will be painted on the building exterior of Betty’s.

“We're so grateful to the building owner and to Betty's for allowing us to use this building as the location for our community project,” said Downing. “We also would like to thank all the offices and organizations that helped with their approval and support to make this project a reality. We hope that this turns into additional opportunities for murals in the future.”

"I am thrilled to be a part of this community project! It will be a beautiful addition to the building and a tremendous boost for Betty's," said Rachel Lambdin, owner of Betty’s. "This mural is a visual representation of our shared values. We, the residents of Kutztown, embrace the arts whole heartedly and we enjoy a deep sense of community. The mural is welcoming, beautiful, and distinctive, just like our town."

Lambdin thanks the artist for "his amazing concept," Kutztown Thriving for inviting Gibson to Kutztown and proposing the mural, and also offers her gratitude to the building owner "for graciously giving permission for the project!"

Building owner Mitchell Henry said the 10,000 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 and we were not expecting to become a member of the community this quickly since we just purchased the building last June. Rachel, the owner of Betty's, was our connection to get involved and give back to the local community,” 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.”

“Kutztown Thriving in general is always trying to come up with new initiatives. We’re excited to be doing something with art,” said Robyn Underwood of Kutztown Thriving. “Kutztown Thriving is always trying to make our community better so one way we can do that is by beautifying it with art.”

Community members can help to paint the mural during the Block Party on May 5. The artist makes the outline and community members paint parts of the mural and the artist does the final touches. For a donation, people can paint a part of a flower in the mural. Sign up at the KCP office in advance or at the Block Party at the Kutztown Thriving table. Donations go directly toward the project to cover the costs of supplies and the artist fees.

“We’re excited to be adding some beauty and color to Kutztown,” said Underwood.

For more information about the Ten Thousand Flowers Project, visit https://www.tenthousandflowersproject.com/.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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