Viva Fall River

Viva Fall River is bringing new life to blank walls. Three new murals are in progress.

Jul 25, 2022 | Press

FALL RIVER — The city is getting a lot more colorful, and Viva Fall River couldn’t be happier.

The nonprofit community organization is sponsoring the painting of three large murals in and around downtown Fall River, and on Friday invited the community to a “View and Chew” — a chance to see local and international artists do their work and grab a treat from some food trucks.

On Pocasset Street, the former Herald News building was being splashed at street level with vibrant colors and patterns by local artist Greg Pennisten. Three stories up, where the newspaper’s logo once greeted visitors coming from Somerset across the Braga Bridge, Portuguese artist Diogo Machado, aka Add Fuel, had covered it up; he stood in a boom lift, painting that wall with a pattern resembling Portuguese tiles.

Viva Fall River Executive Director Patti Rego said the muralists are creating art that broadcasts the city’s culture. “They do it in a way that preserves the tradition in the neighborhood but it tries to bring some life to the neighborhood and involve the community,” she said.

Viva Fall River is working with the Fall River Arts and Culture Coalition and nonprofit organization Beyond Walls to install the murals. FRACC is a collaborative, member-based organization dedicated to advancing arts and culture in the city to create a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable creative economy.

Beyond Walls Vice President Philip Fagan said the muralists work on tight schedules and tighter budgets — the artists will have two weeks to complete their works.

“Our mission is to activate space to strengthen communities,” Fagan said.

‘Keeping with the character of the city’

The old Herald News building is now owned and occupied by Potter’s Printing, a family-owned custom print shop that puts designs on everything from socks to shot glasses. Their building itself is now being decorated in lively fashion.

Penniston, originally from Swansea, stood in a scissor lift painting the exterior of a building that once held the paper’s printing press. From his spray cans emerged polka dots, flowers, swirls of color.

“Visually it’s based off of old blockprint patterns from fabric produced in a mill that used to be right down the street,” Penniston said, referencing the American Printing Co., which flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries just south on Anawan Street. “Blockprint patterns from the early 1900s — just kind of taking those and recycling them, making them much larger, in keeping with the character of the city and things that were produced here.”

“It’s really beautiful. It lifts an area that really is kind of blah and makes it a little different,” said state Rep. Alan Silvia, on hand to watch the masters at work. “The tile one is Portuguese tiles, which is popular everywhere — in the hallways and houses of Portugal, those tiles are everywhere. But now it sort of brings the culture here.”

Read more about the new murals popping up in Fall River: