Wiscasset to give yarn bombing no spin on Main Street

Thu, 02/18/2021 - 8:45am

    The prospects for a colorful yarn exhibit, or yarn bombing, on Wiscasset’s made over Main Street have unraveled. Selectmen Feb. 16 were mixed on the concept and some said it might work, not on Main Street, but south of it, on Railroad Avenue.

    That is not what Lucia Droby, organizer of Wiscasset Art Walk and last year’s Walk Around Wiscasset, had in mind. Main Street was key as the village’s center, with the railings and benches the works of fiber art could have appeared on, she explained in a phone interview Feb. 17. Yarn works along the avenue’s fence in a corner of the village would be two-dimensional and not have the same draw to the downtown as the Main Street displays would have, Droby said.

    She got the yarn bombing idea from friends’ photographs of one at Tower Hill Botanical Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts. With this region’s interest in fiber arts, she thought it would be phenomenal, she said. 

    She said Town Manager Dennis Simmons wrote her about selectmen’s concerns. “And I just feel like I have to honor that. If they don’t feel (it) is safe (and) appropriate for the village, I don’t feel that I can move beyond that,” she told Wiscasset Newspaper.

    “I’m very disappointed, because I think it’s not appreciating all the remarkable benefits of the yarn bombing,” inviting knitters and fabric artists to take part, and providing terrific photo opportunities and public relations. The art walks have had dancers, musicians,  juggling and more, without a distracted driver problem, Droby said. “But if the selectboard doesn’t feel comfortable doing this then I have to let it go ...

    “But that’s OK, we’ll just move on.”

    In the Feb. 16 Zoom meeting, some board members voiced concern the works would distract drivers, and not fit with the village’s historic look. Katharine Martin-Savage noted Wiscasset dates to the 1700s. “I know art is in the eye of the beholder. (This) just doesn’t work in an old village,” she said.

    Martin-Savage’s fellow selectmen Jeff Slack and Kim Andersson supported a yarn bombing. Andersson wondered if it could be a modest one like she saw in Hallowell, with knitted lamppost cozies she said did not detract from that village’s historic look.

    Chair Pam Dunning said the bright, colorful displays in photos Droby supplied of yarn bombings elsewhere could be fun “if this were a bigger city, a more modern city.” To Dunning’s concern about the yarn’s look after rain and street dust, Andersson said: “If you know Lucia, you know (the exhibit is) going to look good.”

    Selectman Sarah Whitfield said she might support one, but not on Main Street. “When you’re in between the traffic lights, we don’t need any more distractions there.” She suggested Railroad Avenue. 

    If the farmer’s market moves there this year, it and the exhibit might help each other attract people, Dunning said.