Newly-constructed Doodle Wall

17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Part of Cunningham Middle School’s past is now part of the Wintergreen Arts Center’s present and will give children of all ages enjoyment well into the future.

The day before Cunningham Middle School was demolished last spring, City Manager Tom Stevens helped Wintergreen Arts Center volunteers retrieve 20 slate chalkboard panels and other materials from the school.
Last week, volunteers from Lowe’s helped put those materials to good use in creating a 20-foot Doodle Wall for the Children’s Art Studio. Half doors retrieved from the trophy case of the former middle school will open to a play area completely lined with chalkboard panels. Any remaining panels will be used to line the outside of the wall. The remaining exterior walls will be covered with corkboard so children can post their artwork.
“We needed a way to divide the space between the children’s studio, and where the teens and adults work,” said Lara Cannon, president of the Wintergreen Arts Center, which is located at the Aroostook Centre Mall. “We had made a makeshift paper wall, and then got to thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to have a wall they could color on.
“We had the chalkboard panels which are three-eighths inch thick, and are really nice,” she said. “What better way to use the materials we had gotten from the school.”
Cannon went to the former store manager at Lowe’s to see if the company could assist the arts center in any way.
“He wrote a letter to the corporate office which awarded us a $1,200 ‘Heroes in Our Community’ grant,” she said. “We received $1,200 worth of materials to transform the slate panels into a three-dimensional work of art.
“In addition to that,” said Cannon, “Lowe’s said they would supply the labor. They’re just awesome.”
While the Doodle Wall construction was done last Wednesday and the finishing work Thursday, Shawn Dumais, sales manager for Lowe’s, said company employees had actually been working on the project for about a month.
“We assisted in the design of the wall, did the materials list … figuring what we were going to need, and we made two or three trips to the site trying to nail down what we would need to do,” he said Wednesday. “A day or two of construction and another day of finishing work and we’ll be done.”
Dumais said Lowe’s is “really, really big on community,” and the Doodle Wall project is an example of that.
“This project is for the kids,” he said. “Lowe’s likes working with the community and doing community service projects, and we’re happy to help. We’ve volunteered our time to help build the wall. We’re here on our days off.”
“This gives Lowe’s a good chance to show how much they care about the people in the community,” said Terry Beaton, commercial sales specialist.
Other Lowe’s employees who helped with the project include Anne Hanning, Greg Palm, Tammy Knoll, Steve Clair, Damien Tetlow, and Joshua Addington.
The initial blueprint of the wooden structure was designed by Northeast Camps.
The Doodle Wall will be officially unveiled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.
“The Doodle Wall is meant to be a creative space where kids can come and color and not get in trouble for coloring on walls,” Cannon said. “The slates are renewable because we can wash them and keep using them over and over. It’s a fun thing to do.
“It’s fun to take the historic material from Cunningham and transform it into a new piece of art,” she said.
In addition to the Doodle Wall, the Children’s Art Studio will feature a four to five-foot tall three-dimensional mascot, which officials think might be a squirrel.
Matt Leighton, a teacher and volunteer at the Wintergreen Arts Center, is working on creating different clay prototypes for the mascot.
“It will likely be made out of a high density foam and will be painted with chalkboard paint so it can be drawn on,” he said. “It will be a nice, interactive structure.
“It’s very cool to be involved in creating the prototype,” said Leighton. “I spent a couple of hours working on the squirrel and I think it looks pretty good. I love making things for children. It’s been wonderful and worthwhile volunteering and spending time with something like the Wintergreen Arts Center which can really benefit the community.”
The Children’s Art Studio is geared toward children ages 18 months to 12 years old. Fall classes at the Children’s Art Studio include Little Artists, Musical Munchkins I and II, Squiggles: Color, Squiggles: Shapes, Children’s Art Exploration, and Totally Twisted Tessellation I and II.
The Wintergreen Arts Center was established in 2006. Its mission is to provide an atmosphere rich in the creative arts for the residents of and visitors to Aroostook County. For more information, visit www.wintergreenarts.org or contact Lara Cannon at 207-551-0936.