By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Dec. 24, 2020) The Berlin Art and Entertainment Committee joined artist Tim Gibson to create a community mural inside the Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library as part of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project.
Gibson, 25, established the Ten Thousand Flowers Project in 2018 in his hometown of Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
Before founding the project, Gibson made a few murals in Perkasie. The local bureau requested a community-involved mural, so he pitched essentially a paint-by-number project.
“Through making that, I realized it’s so simplistic that I could implement it anywhere around the country,” he said.
From there, he had a vision to interconnect murals across the U.S.
“The Ten Thousand Flowers Project is basically an ongoing mural that connects a series of flowers that are painted by community members,” said John Donato, a local collaborative teaching artist and muralist.
The beginning of the 24-foot flowers project in the Berlin library is a continuation of a mural at the Worcester County Developmental Center in Newark, said Gibson. The end of the project then connects to a mural somewhere else in the country.
Gibson travels the country for the Ten Thousand Flowers Project in a renovated bus.
To this day, Gibson has made about 35 murals in the U.S. with the help of volunteers.
“The way the tour worked I kind of just picked a destination on the map, drove to it and then tried to find a place that week,” Gibson said.
He discovered Berlin, America’s Coolest Small Town, after doing an internet search of “cool places in Maryland.”
Robin Tomaselli, vice president of the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee and owner of Baked Dessert Café, met Gibson at her bakery.
“[He] just happened to discuss the Ten Thousand Flowers Project briefly with me, and he was so excited about it,” Tomaselli said. “Once he showed me some of the photographs of the places and the projects that were involved, I absolutely fell in love with it, too, and knew that it would be something that would be spectacular for the arts and entertainment committee to support and for Berlin as a whole.”
The location of the mural was determined by a poll on social media.
“The library was the overwhelming winner of that poll,” Tomaselli said. “John [Donato] and I both met with the powers that be at the library. We looked at all kinds of different locations, both outside and inside, and we basically allowed the library to kind of dictate where they thought it would be best for their application.”
The library staff members chose the foyer area for the mural location because they believed it would have a greater impact on those that utilize the library, she said.
“It would be easily seen, and it looked really good where they put it,” Donato added.
Tomaselli said there is a Ten Thousand Flowers Project mural also at the Worcester County Developmental Center.
“It started there to give the people that are served at the developmental center a therapeutic experience involving art,” she said.
Tomaselli said the installation of the mural at the center transformed a space used by individuals daily.
“It was just absolutely stunning, beautiful, uplifting,” she said. “Looking at it just made you happy.”
When the walls were selected and prepped at the center and the library, Gibson sketched in each unique mural.
He said he prepared the Ten Thousand Flowers Project mural at the library for two days before a day of painting with nearly 25 volunteers.
“This project was pretty special,” Donato said. “I actually got to work with somebody blind, completely blind, and they were able to paint on the project.”
He added that the success of a community project is determined by inclusion during the process.
After the painting is complete, Gibson returns the next day to touch up the mural and outline the flowers.
Gibson donated his time and design for the murals in the Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library and Worcester County Developmental Center.
“The only thing that the arts and entertainment committee had to provide support for was the installation,” Tomaselli said.
Donato conducted the installation in coordination with contractors at the library.
“[The arts and entertainment committee] brought me in to work with [Gibson] to sort of guide him on the process of creating artwork on an installation [and] working with at-risk adults –people that have specific challenges – in creating artwork,” Donato said.
According to an invoice, the total installation cost was $2,275.
“It was recently installed,” Tomaselli said. “It was supposed to be installed last spring but because of the pandemic, the library closed.”
Tomaselli hopes a public unveiling of the mural at the library can take place when the covid-19 positivity rate in Worcester County declines.
Furthermore, the Ten Thousand Flowers Project has paused because of covid-19, but Gibson hopes to go back out on a modified tour in spring 2021.