Peter Walls and Annette Dodd teamed up to create a new mural on Franklin Street in downtown Bangor that celebrates the Kenduskeag Stream Trail. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Four longtime Bangor artists, educators and volunteers launched a new nonprofit this week aimed at beautifying Bangor through public art, trees and gardens.

Bangor Beautiful was formed by Annette Dodd, Kat Johnson, Greg Edwards and Susan Bryand, with the goal of raising funds and marshaling resources to create new murals, plant trees and gardens and help supply volunteers to maintain Bangor’s many miles of public trails.

The collaboration will satisfy the need for a more organized approach to beautifying Bangor and maintaining the decorative elements that make the city more appealing to people and businesses.

Dodd, who owns the The Rock & Art Shop locations in Bangor, Ellsworth and Bar Harbor with her family, was responsible for the creation of three of the most prominent murals in Bangor: the Welcome to Bangor mural on Union Street, the Paul Bunyan “Bangor Wants You” mural on Central Street and the Kenduskeag Stream Trail mural on Franklin Street.

The Franklin Street mural, completed in June 2022, was a huge project for which Dodd and fellow artist Peter Walsh received a grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

The financial support received from the arts commission and others convinced Dodd that they needed to create an organization that could directly support projects like that — and to move beyond just downtown Bangor to encompass the whole city.

“There are parts of the city well beyond downtown that could really use public art, or new trees to be planted or some other way to beautify the area,” said Dodd, who also serves on Bangor’s Tree Board with Edwards. “Things like that uplift the city. They improve property values. They make this a better place to live.”

Through Bangor Beautiful, they will be able to apply for grants and accept donations from a wide array of sources, and be able to consistently undertake new projects, one of which will be another large mural set to be painted in downtown Bangor this summer.

Artist Matt Willey will bring his Good of the Hive project to Bangor in July, and will paint a large, bee-themed mural on the side of Pepino’s Restaurant on Park Street.

Bangor Beautiful plans to support Friends of the Lower Kenduskeag Stream, a volunteer organization that cleans up the Kenduskeag Stream Trail each month, as well as for other volunteers who want to clean up and build signage for trails like those at Essex Woods or the City Forest.

Beyond murals, Dodd said she and her group hope to plant more trees on city streets that are lacking in them, to plant flowers in strategic spots and to paint smaller installments of public art around the city on pieces of infrastructure like retaining walls and utility boxes.

“When I walk to work down Center Street, for example, there are big sections of the street where there are no trees,” she said. “They provide shade, they are beautiful and we should be replacing ones that are cut down.”

Similar beautification projects such as Downtown Bangor Adopt-a-Garden program and the holiday lights along Norumbega Parkway and Hannibal Hamlin Park will continue to be run by the Downtown Bangor Partnership, which has its own beautification committee.

Dodd said that in addition to seeking out grants and donations, Bangor Beautiful also wants to recruit volunteers to work on beautification and clean-up projects around town.

“We need people who are passionate about this community and who want to make a difference in making this a better place to live,” she said.

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Emily Burnham

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