If you’re driving around Hamilton and Wenham this weekend, don’t be alarmed if you spot an oversized, many-eyed metal spider clinging to an enormous web or an assortment of colorful and cartoonish papier-mâché animals peering at you from atop a rock. In fact, you should pull over and take a closer look.
These and other pieces are part of Art Grows Here, is a 10-day community art project in Hamilton and Wenham that invites anyone to create a piece of art to put on display for free. The rules of the project, now in its eighth year, are simple: The piece must be outside or visible from the outside, family friendly, and able to withstand being outdoors for 10 days.
“Anybody can do anything they want. That’s one of the things that makes it so diverse and so interesting,” says Jane Bowers, curator of the Wenham Museum and a volunteer for Art Grows Here. “We’ve had professional artists create pieces, we’ve had amateurs create pieces, we’ve had family groups create pieces.”
Sandy Dorato’s piece includes multiple animals made from papier-maché that are installed around the neighborhood at the intersection of Lake Drive and Perkins Street in South Hamilton. Courtesy of Art Grows Here.
To help guide people through the displays, Art Grows Here also produces a map of the two towns showing where each of the pieces are displayed. The free, printed maps are available to pick up at the Wenham Museum, Hamilton-Wenham Library, and The Community House in Hamilton, as well as at each of the installations. The maps are also downloadable from the Art Grows Here website. Bowers says they print 500 maps each year and always run out.
Through Sunday, July 23, visitors to Hamilton and Wenham can check out Art Grows Here’s 12 pieces, which include, “Hiroshima,” located in front of the First Church in Wenham, inviting viewers to add an origami bird to the piece, and “Welcome to the Neighborhood,” which features sweet painted pieces created by children. There are birds, butterflies, and other wildlife painted onto old windows and political signs that are reimagined into art, not to mention the metal spider and web in front of the Wenham Museum, which was created by Bowers.
Bowers says the event, sponsored by Parrelli Optical, is not only about sharing art and inviting people onto spaces they might not otherwise visit, but also the excitement of searching for and visiting the different pieces throughout the two towns.
“You never know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the fun, part of the adventure,” she says.