Thanks for the spark

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Most people will agree that downtown Suffolk needs a spark, and SPARC is one organization that is helping to provide it.

The SPARC Initiative, which stands for Suffolk’s Premier Arts, Retail and Cultural Initiative, was the main organizer and one of the sponsors for the SPARC Fest that happened on Saturday.

In addition to face painting, vendors, activities, performances, food and more, the main event of the festival was the unveiling of a project that has been going on for months — the decoration of the historic Northwestern Train Station with original murals by local artists.

Email newsletter signup

The artists, ranging in age from preteens to older artists, painted flowers, trees, a heart, cats, a ballerina, a silhouette of a giraffe feeding in front of a brilliant sunset and more — all a vast improvement over the boarded-up windows at the abandoned train station.

SPARC has already brought space for artists to work and sell their creations to downtown, and it has also rallied local artists to paint trashcans and planters in downtown to liven up the sidewalks. The organization also is working on several other, less visible projects. But the murals represented the group’s largest foray yet into public art, something SPARC founder Ed Beardsley has had in mind from the very beginning.

Public art not only can help improve the look of an area but also can help draw people specifically to see the art. While people are in downtown to see the beautiful new paintings on this train station, perhaps they will visit a shop or try a restaurant.

SPARC is helping to build excitement around downtown, and we think that’s just what downtown Suffolk needs. It’s not always about big municipal projects, trendy restaurants or unique shops; sometimes, it can be the simplest, littlest things like cleaning up the sidewalks or covering the derelict buildings with paintings.

Thank you, SPARC and its partners, for helping to light a spark.