The exterior of Shaw's Supermarket on Main Street in downtown Bangor. The Together Place Peer Recovery Center plans to paint a mural on the brick wall. Credit: Emily Burnham

A mental health and substance abuse recovery organization in Bangor wants to put its next piece of public art on the side of the Shaw’s Supermarket on Main Street.

The Together Place Peer Run Recovery Center announced recently that it would sponsor a Maine artist to design and install a mural on the side of the Shaw’s building that faces the Bangor Waterfront and the Maine Savings Amphitheater.

It’s part of the Together Place’s larger effort to clean up and revitalize the neighborhoods between Main, 3rd and Cedar streets in Bangor, which have a high concentration of low-income residents and have seen a large portion of the city’s drug overdoses. The organization wants the mural design to have an uplifting message, and encourage a positive community spirit.

The organization has a $3,500 stipend funded by donations from local businesses and nonprofits to compensate the artist and to pay for materials. Volunteers from the Together Place will assist in installation.

“It’s a great thing for people in recovery to directly participate in helping with something, and especially this one here at Shaw’s. We’re talking about a very prominent location, high-traffic street, right in front of Waterfront Concerts, and something that will be a landmark for this city for years to come,” said Together Place executive director Sean Faircloth.

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The deadline to submit a proposal is June 3, and submissions can be sent to Artists must be based in Maine, and the organization wants the mural to be fully installed by November 2022. A full list of requirements can be found on the Together Place’s Facebook page.

The Together Place, founded in Bangor in 1981 as a mental health social club, has in more recent years shifted to providing peer support for people in recovery from substance use and mental health crises. It also organizes events including cleanups in public parks, free haircut days and community meals.

The Together Place has already sponsored one mural in downtown Bangor on the side of its building on the corner of Union and Second streets that was painted in 2018. That mural, designed by then-University of Maine student Liam Reading, features portraits of notable Mainers, including Joshua Chamberlain, Stephen King, Louis Sockalexis, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Dorothea Dix.

Liam Reading works on a mural on the wall of the Together Place in Bangor Wednesday afternoon. The University of Maine art student submitted a proposal that was accepted by the Bangor City Council. He will depict several influential Mainers on the mural that he expects to complete around the end of June. Credit: Gabor Degre | BDN

It’s part of a wave of new public art in downtown Bangor in recent years, including the “Greetings from Bangor, Maine” mural on the corner Union and Main streets, painted in 2014 by Bangor artist Annette Dodd; the Paul Bunyan mural, also painted by Dodd in 2021 on the side of 30 Central St; and the “Hopeful” sign, created by artist Charlie Hewitt and installed in December 2021 on the side of the McGuire Building on Main Street.

That’s in addition to the Downtown Bangor Mural Wheatpaste Project, a yearly effort organized by local arts nonprofit Launchpad and the Downtown Bangor Partnership. Now in its fourth year, the project takes original drawings by artists, blows them up in size and prints them, and pastes them to the sides of buildings using a wheat-based, non-permanent glue.

Submissions for the 2022 project are open until May 27 and can be  submitted via the Launchpad website.

The general manager of Shaw’s Bangor store referred questions to a corporate spokesperson, who didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.