Crisfield, Maryland’s southernmost town, is well-known for its Eastern Shore seafood heritage. Now, it’s becoming increasingly well-known as an arts destination. A group of community arts leaders have dreamed up a way to tie these two identities together: by installing a mural right on Main Street that honors the seafood industry.
Crisfield is one of the state’s Arts and Entertainment Districts, chosen by the Maryland State Arts Council in a rigorous application process in 2018. The designation allows the city to build a thriving arts community with the help of tax incentives and grant opportunities. And that, in turn, may encourage economic growth.
At a meeting Monday night, Crisfield Arts and Entertainment District (CAED) Coordinator Jen Merritt laid out the plans for a proposed Seafood Workers Mural. It would be painted by Michael Rosato, the Cambridge muralist made famous by his compelling image of Harriet Tubman, hand outstretched, painted on the side of the Tubman Museum & Educational Center.
The new Crisfield mural would depict female African American crab pickers as its central image, along with boat captains unloading seafood and other aspects of the seafood industry. (CAED says Rosato wasn’t ready to share his sketches just yet, as he considers more community input.)
The 12 x 32-foot mural will be installed at 347 Main Street, at the site of a former pool hall. The idea to implement murals in Crisfield came from the CAED Project, which discovered through community meetings that public art is a priority in the town. The Greater Crisfield Action Coalition identified the project as a potential economic driver through tourism.
The two project leads, Darlene Taylor and Eric Banks, both have backgrounds in the seafood industry. Taylor told those at Monday’s meeting she picked crabs to pay her way through college, and both feel a special connection to the subjects of the mural.
Funding for the project, estimated to cost just under $20,000, would come from five different grants identified by the Greater Crisfield Action Coalition. Now, project leaders are calling on the public to submit letters of support for the mural. CAED says the letters needn’t be formal– asking only that people explain why they support the mural.
Letters can be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to the Crisfield Arts & Entertainment District Project, PO Box 107, Crisfield MD 21817. Learn more about CAED’s projects and artists at https://www.crisfieldarts.org/.
–Meg Walburn Viviano