Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Nationwide mural project descends on Berlin

Shekemah Wright, an instructor driver at the Worcester County Developmental Center, center, and muralist John Donato, right, help Worcester County Developmental Center clients, from left, Ariel Godwin, Steven Davis and Kevin Lucas, paint as part of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project.

By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer

(Nov. 7, 2019) Artist Tim Gibson drove into Berlin last week on a floral bus with one purpose in mind: painting a mural as part of his Ten Thousand Flowers Project.

Gibson, 24, of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, began his mural-painting journey in June 2018, and started the Ten Thousand Flowers Project tour in Maine this past June. He’s since been traveling through small towns down the East Coast. When leaving Lewes, Delaware, he discovered Berlin with the help of a search engine. 

“I literally Googled cool towns on the east coast of Maryland, and this one popped up,” Gibson said.

After getting to town, Gibson said he walked into Baked Dessert Cafe on Bay Street, which just happened to be owned by Robin Tomaselli, vice president of Berlin’s Arts and Entertainment Committee. 

“It was just fate,” Tomaselli said.

Tomaselli recalled Gibson pitching his project to her and she was on board. She then put Gibson in touch with muralist John Donato, who recently finished a series of panels outside the Berlin Welcome Center on South Main Street.

“He’s young, and he’s bright, and he’s going a really good job, so I was like any way I could help,” Donato said.

Donato did just that by way of helping to secure materials, and strategizing with Gibson. 

The inspiration for the project came from Tim’s love of art and time traveling with his father. He also said he used to have more of an eclectic art style and would often draw fish or monsters. Given the time constraints of Gibson’s project, he said he was grateful for Donato and Tomaselli. He said he usually spends about a week planning and painting before packing up and heading to the next town.

When working on a particular mural, Gibson said he’ll typically sketch the outlines of the flowers, stems and petals. He added he designates a color to each part of the mural so to create “a giant paint-by-numbers.”

When community members come out to participate, he said he’ll often hand out cups of paint and brushes to people. 

Gibson also said he’s always strived for simplicity and accessibility when he draws each flower. He hopes the townspeople who help paint the murals enjoy it. 

“I guess that’s kind of why I picked them, it’s universal,” Gibson said. 

He also said he believes that art builds community and can act as a stress reliever. 

“I think it’s really important,” People kind of overlook art a lot of time … but I really think … the act of doing art is super therapeutic,” Gibson said.

Painters of all ages and experience levels have participated in his projects, Gibson said.

“I think it’s just that’s what I kind of like about the project,” Gibson said. “It’s a simple project”

In order to complete the project in Berlin, Donato said they needed paint brushes, panels and “exterior acrylic” paint. 

With respect to Berlin’s project, Donato and Gibson painted on Monday at the Worcester County Developmental Center. 

Tina Johnson, art manager at the Worcester County Developmental Center, said that a number of clients enjoyed participating and she hopes they took something away from the experience. 

“So by doing something like this, [it] not only gives them a sense of responsibility, but it also gives them a sense of achievement, and being able to not only see it here in the [Worcester County] Developmental Center, but also outside in the community, they can take ownership and say that we did that,” Johnson said. 

Gibson said he typically paints murals on walls, but because of the somewhat short notice and need for approval, the trio opted to use panels. Once the painting portion of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project is finished, the panels will need to find a more permanent home, but it’s unclear where that will be. They’re also discussing if they want to separate the mural or keep it as one cohesive piece.

Tomaselli and Donato agree that Gibson’s project is something special. 

“He’s following his passion and he’s connecting to his community and … when you look at it that way, that’s just priceless,” Tomaselli said. 

Tomaselli said she appreciated that Berlin will be part of a larger story once Gibson’s project is completed as all of his murals will be connected. 

When asked why he picked the name “Ten Thousand Flowers Project,” he said he drew his inspiration from Malcolm Gladwell, author of the “Outliers.”

“The idea that you have to put 10,000 hours into something for you to really become an expert at it, a master at it,” Gibson said, “so I kind of subscribe to that idea.”

Gibson also said he also had to be realistic with a project of this geographic magnitude, and he’s giving himself an extended deadline to complete it. 

“I realized it’ll take years,” Gibson said. “The goal is to have it finished by my 30th birthday.”

As for what he’s most looking forward to, he said it’s returning to his hometown to paint a special flower.

“The main goal is obviously is to paint that 10,000th flower. That I think is going to be very rewarding,” Gibson said. “It’s actually the first one we did in Perkasie has a little silhouette of a flower reserved. So it actually says ‘reserved for flower number 10,000.’” 

Tomaselli also said the Berlin’s Arts and Entertainment Committee has additional grant funding for public art projects like Gibson’s.

“We’re not going to let him go it alone,” Tomaselli said. 

For more information about the project, visit 

Gibson said he sells merchandise and takes donations to help offset the cost of his project. For more information, visit

To donate, visit