Public art could be coming to downtown Towson, as committee explores options

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks has launched a committee to explore installing public art in downtown Towson.

The committee, co-chaired by two Towson residents — Knollwood resident David Riley and Greenbrier artist Amy Redondo — will work to have murals painted on walls throughout the downtown Towson district.

“Our goal is to make Towson a destination for music, art, food and culture,” Redondo said. “One of the things we can do to modernize and honor the core values of Towson is to start involving murals, to make Towson a destination for people to shop, explore and take pictures.”

If the project is successful, Marks said murals could go up as soon as June or July.

“There are some blank areas that can be brightened up,” Marks, who represents Towson, said in an email. “Every urban community benefits from public art.”

Riley said the committee will be called the Towson Creative Partnership and will find possible locations, identify themes for the murals and seek funding sources. Preliminary plans were announced at the Towson Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.

Chamber director Nancy Hafford said the project could benefit Towson businesses and “help add a sense of place,” but it will require the business community’s support. The project would need permission from property owners, as well as donors to help fund it.

Adding murals is a way to gear downtown Towson to the social media era, Redondo said, giving examples of successful cities like Austin, Texas.

“People document everything that they do,” Redondo said. “They take pictures of friends and family and post it on Facebook. They take pictures of food and places they’ve visited and they’re on Instagram. We’re trying to create an environment that is as beautiful and vibrant as the community.”

Riley said the murals could even draw visitors to Towson for public art tours.

Redondo, who owns a business called Creative Paint Finishes that specializes in decorative painting and murals, said the cost could vary widely depending on the size and complexity of each piece of art.

She has created eight renderings so far of possible murals, though cautioned that for now they are just ideas until the committee hears input from the community.

Some murals, she said, could be painted with the help of community volunteers. Others would need an artist’s touch. But, she said, “the murals that were designed with community help in mind are no less stunning, interesting and elaborate than murals I’d paint myself.”

The time it takes to paint each mural varies but starts at around one week, Redondo said.

Marks said that so far, two locations have property owners enthusiastic about putting up murals: the library, and the building near Nacho Mama’s with a mural that a man damaged with graffiti over the summer.

Riley said as Towson grows more urban, the initiative will help capture “the creative energy that a community that has two universities should have.”

“As Towson becomes much more urban, much more built up, we need something like this to make it unique, make it special,” Riley said.

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