HAMILTON — It's not often an art tour makes a stop at a convenience store. But Hamilton Convenience Store just got a unique makeover.
The street-facing wall of the store is now covered in a 15-by-30-foot mural celebrating the Hamilton and Wenham communities. Dubbed "Hamilton Americana," the mural consists of equestrian images — which evokes a part of the community's culture — blended with the American flag.
"We wanted to do something with the community, not just our own idea, because including the community is part of doing murals," said Philip Coleman, who created the mural along with his wife, Maria. "Wenham has a lot to do with horses, they're a part of its history."
The couple created the mural last month as part of Art Grows Here, a program featuring a guided tour of public art projects throughout Hamilton and Wenham.
When the Colemans — who live in Wenham and own Angelmex 2 Studios in Beverly — decided to participate in Art Grows Here, they thought of the convenience store.
"I drove by here and they'd just got done resurfacing the wall, so it was a blank wall. And if you're a muralist, you see a blank wall and can't help but want to put a mural on it," said Philip Coleman.
The couple knows the store owner, Jack Patel, as his daughter attends Buker Elementary School with the Colemans' twin 9-year-old daughters, Celia and Sylvia. When they approached him about their plans, Patel gave them his blessing.
"I thought it was a really great idea," said Patel. "People can see something new."
Patel even asked them to expand the project. The Colemans weren't originally going to paint the door on the wall, but Patel requested it.
On the door, they painted an image of Gen. George S. Patton, the famed World War II leader who once called Hamilton his home. Patton's daughter-in-law, Joanne Holbrook Patton, 83, is still a vibrant member of the community; when the Colemans saw her speak at the town's July 4 celebration, they got the idea to use the general's image, with her permission.
Putting art on the street
The Colemans have done 15 other murals on the North Shore.
"Murals are one way to put art on the street. ... Not all people go to a museum, so this is a way to give locals a chance to be exposed to art," said Maria Coleman. "One way or another, murals, or art, influences people — and we want to make people feel something."
Philip Coleman added that it's a way to give back to the community.
"This was once just a blank wall no one would look twice at; now it's a mural that says something about Hamilton," said Coleman. "We hope people will feel proud."
It seems that "Hamilton Americana" has achieved that goal.
Coleman said people have thanked them for supporting Hamilton Convenience — which has had to deal with the recent arrival of a competitor, Cumberland Farms, across the street. And they've gotten compliments on the artwork itself.
Even as Coleman was talking about how he's not worried about vandals because he believes people respect murals, someone from a passing car called out praise for the art.
Patel offered further proof of the community's positive feelings about the mural.
"From every person, I hear, 'It's a great job, what a really great idea, it's beautiful,'" said Patel. "Everybody really likes their work."
The Colemans just finished the door — the final piece of the mural — over the last few days. They are next taking their talents to Todd's Sporting Goods in Beverl, where they've started a mural that will ultimately feature tributes to three honored locals — Angie Miller, the Beverly native who finished third place in "American Idol" season 12; Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player whose ALS diagnosis launched the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge; and Riley Fessenden, a Beverly 6-year-old diagnosed with a rare form of nasal cancer.
They're also planning to create a mural in the Centerville Elementary School library, and Maria Coleman said they hope to increase efforts to promote the arts and work with groups of children to create more murals.
"This is our way of being part of the community," said Philip Coleman, "and it's what we love to do."
Staff writer Amanda Ostuni can be reached at 978-338-2660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.