Power of Culture Blog
COVID-19 has devastated the arts and cultural sector. No more gigs. No more plays. No more gallery showings. Still, as they usually do, artists are finding ways to make and share their art with the world.
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When an incoming mayor wants to make a visit to City Hall a much more accessible and engaging experience for the populace, who can they turn to? In Lynn, where the City Hall is located within a Cultural District, Mayor Thomas McGee turned to the Downtown Lynn Cultural District, specifically their Director, Carolyn Cole.
On September 10, the City celebrated the building’s 70th anniversary and chose that occasion to show off its new look. After a formal presentation where six former mayors were on hand to add to the celebration, attendees were invited to roam the four floors of hallways filled with art from residents and employees of the City. All organized by Carolyn, a long-time Lynn resident who also sang the national anthem to kick everything off.
The celebration was called ‘City h(All): Celebrating the 70-year anniversary of Lynn’s City Hall.’ It activated every aspect of this art deco building. There was the formal ceremony in the building’s entrance, Veteran’s Memorial Hall, which formally celebrates and remembers service members of armed conflicts. The main space of this municipal office building is a 2,000-seat theater which has a very active performance schedule of touring musicals and community events and film screenings (Bobby Brown is there on September 27) making it one of the largest cultural assets, and a major contributor to local eateries, in the Cultural District. This evening, the theater showed a series of videos from Lynn Community Television, including the premiere of a music video celebrating the Cultural District named ‘What’s The Name Of This Place?” sung to the tune of Sesame Street’s ‘What’s The Name Of That Song?’ The song was made with the permission of Sesame Street with lyrics written by Carolyn and sung by local stakeholders!
Each of the four floor’s hallways had different theme: The first floor had a roots/community theme. The walls were covered with art from everywhere and everyone, including many photos of city scenes. A large paper tree followed the roots theme. Even employees who work in the building contributed to the work.
The second floor had a maritime theme with more than 20 paintings, including a large oil on canvas of a sunset over the ocean, donated by the Galleries at LynnArts. There’s also about 12 feet of wall space filled with pictures of fish by youngsters from a previous all-city Lynn Public Schools show.
The third floor held an impressive ‘Wall of Mayors’ exhibit that honored every person who ever held the city’s top office. It led to the office of current mayor, Thomas McGee. Also on the third floor, Hearing Room 302 had been transformed into a community gallery, while still maintaining its main function of holding meetings of all types. The gallery included an incredible graffiti mural created by local artist Grimdrops. The gallery exhibits were run by Lynn’s Public Arts Commission and photographed by the Lynn Shutter Society, spotlighting organizations making a positive contribution in the city.
The fourth floor focused on industry and innovation. There were exhibits of memorabilia from the Narrow-Gauge Railroad, the shoe industry, and the Underground Railroad. One wall next to the Public Health office paid tribute to Lynn Hospital, and contained a portrait of a nursing school graduate. To cap the fourth-floor experience, the hallway also housed a replica of the first jet engine created in Lynn by General Electric.
Who would’ve thought that a simple idea by the Mayor to “bring more art into City Hall” would explode into a total celebration of a community? And it doesn’t end there. There are still vast running feet of wall space ready to welcome more contributions from local artists from all walks of life in Lynn. We look forward to seeing what the Cultural District comes up with next.