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‘Everyone can enjoy public art’ with Malden’s ARTLine

This fish sculpture by Thomas Berger of Kittery, Maine was installed in COVID Memorial Park on June 15 at the Franklin Street crossing of the Northern Strand Community Trail.Debbie DeMaria

The Malden Arts ARTLine, a public art gallery along the city’s section of the 10-mile Northern Strand Community Trail, will commemorate the completion of its second phase with an unveiling ceremony at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 20.

The newest addition, located on the Malden Spring auto repair building at 93 Maplewood St. on the trail near Maplewood Square, features a grouping of photographs by Malden photographer Susi Ecker designed to celebrate the city’s diversity of cyclists.

“I love meeting other cyclists and listening to their stories,” Ecker wrote in a short bio. “So many gracious souls have taken the time to stop and share a little bit of themselves. I hope these photographs honor their spirit.”

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One in a series of bicycle portraits titled “Bicycle Souls: Portraits of the Pedal Driven.”Susan Margot Ecker

Also as part of the second phase, the COVID Memorial Park was scheduled to open on June 15 at the Franklin Street crossing of the trail featuring sculptures of a fish and wave with a mosaic pool to convey interconnectedness. Two benches enable visitors to reflect on the mural of poetry and other artistic expressions from more than a dozen local residents, which pay tribute to the extensive range of experiences of those who served and suffered during the pandemic.

On May 22, a dedication took place for the mural “Life’s Little Victories” honoring Malden-born cartoonist Keith Knight, whose Hulu series “Woke” is based on his life experiences.

Conceived in 2017, ARTLine is modeled after the High Line on Manhattan’s West Side, the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, and mural festivals in Lynn and Worcester in collaboration with partners Groundwork Somerville, MassDevelopment, and the City of Malden.

The first Malden native to be celebrated for contributions to the arts was illustrator and artist Ed Emberley, whose Wonderful World of Ed Emberley mural was painted by local high school students and unveiled on Exchange Street in May 2018.

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A mural honoring minimalist artist Frank Stella, who was also born in Malden, was unveiled at Malden High School in December 2019. The Spirit in the Sky mural was dedicated to singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum, a 1960 graduate of Malden High School, on Exchange Street in October 2019.

The Canal Street art hub is adorned with a bike sculpture, bench, and mural, while train murals beautify Centre Street.

According to Sharon Santillo, a board member of MaldenArts, the evolving ArtLine encourages use of the trail, benefits local businesses through increased foot traffic, and broadens the reach of public art. In addition, she hopes the artwork lifts the spirits of those passing by.

“Not everyone goes to museums or galleries, but everyone can enjoy public art,” Santillo said.

“We hope that everyone feels part of it all, and maybe even inspired by these figures. Some lived here for a short time and others for a long time, but they’re from the same place and look at all the interesting things they accomplished in life through writing, visual art, or whatever their expression.”

For more information, visit maldenarts.org/artline.

Cindy Cantrell can be reached at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.

A mural by Keith Knight on the Northern Strand Community Trail.Sharon Santillo