By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
The Berlin Historic District Commission approved a mural on the side of glassblower Jeff Auxer’s storefront at 19 Jefferson Street during its meeting on July 6.
Auxer, whose store is named Jeff Auxer Designs, said he wishes to capitalize on the popularity of photographable backgrounds, especially with the fence on the property that people can put locks on, which gives them “something to do.”
“It’s been a pretty good turnout,” Auxer said. “But the background is terrible.”
The background he referred to contains electric meters and a gas meter — equipment he didn’t consider to be very photogenic.
“The idea is to make something back there that looks a little nicer and to give Berlin some more exposure as well,” he said.
The mural itself is simple, he said, envisioning an array of colors painted on the wall with the love locks logo. He said he’d be careful with the public-property gas and electric meters, making sure to not paint over anything that makes them hard to read.
“This was my idea,” Auxer said. “This was something (I thought) would be just a background image, but if people do take pictures and post them, they’re not looking at the ugliness of the building now.”
The only pushback he received from the board — if it could even be called that since it preceded a unanimous vote — came from commission member Mary Moore, who questioned if the current look needed a makeover, as one could say it had “gritty urban” appeal.
“You want to see (the lock display) and I’m distracted because of all the other stuff. You have art, you need space around it to grab it,” she said. “It’s distracting to my eye, which is an artistic eye when you have all these other elements in there. I’m trying to think, for you, any ideas that we can come up with together.”
Before coming around to the vote, Moore suggested a gray color that could camouflage the utility equipment.
Commission chair Norman Bunting saw it differently.
“The lock thing, I had no idea that’s what that was. I think it’s a neat, cool idea,” Bunting said. “As you’re looking at the design here, they’re locks, Mary. That looks unique into backing up what you did there.”
Committee member Laura Stern said Auxer’s building is artistic, and, after all, the town is trying to make that area into an “art street.”
“In that sense, I think it would fit,” she said.
“At first I did feel it was kind of like, as Mary was saying, that gritty urban feeling when I first saw it. But then I thought, this is an arts street where we are promoting the arts and your building is every kind of quirky arts kind of (thing) and it does kind of go with that.”
Auxer reiterated that his intention was simple and straightforward.
“I just want people to be able to take pictures in front of it and not be ashamed of the picture or trying to find an angle that’s not terrible looking,” he said.
Meanwhile, the commission pushed Mandala Pie’s signage decision up from August to July to accommodate its opening in a couple of weeks and unanimously approved the sign that owner Caitlin LaComb presented.
The Historic District Commission next meets on Aug.
This story appears in the print version of the Bayside Gazette on July 14, 2022.