In Nashua, the art sneaks up on you. And then it astonishes.
A three-story-tall portrait makes an art gallery out of a parking lot. A little girl blows bubbles from a brilliant turquoise background on the wall of a Rotary Club. A tribute to Christa McAuliffe transforms the side of Eddie’s Auto Repair.
Cecilia Ulibarri and Manuel Ramirez are painting their town.
As co-founders of Positive Street Art in Nashua, the couple has made it their mission “to inspire a passion for the urban arts in a productive way” — and strengthen community in the process. The organization also offers workshops for kids and organizes community art, including a “free graffiti wall” that is so well-loved that it bears stratified layers of mural atop mural.
Ramirez, the PSA artist-in-residence, wants people to “be a little bit uplifted” when they see the work, and know “that this is a community that is cared for.”
These paintings would be at home in London or New York, but Ramirez and Ulibarri are committed to their small New England city, where the canvas is less cluttered and the effect outsized. They have been implored to bring the work farther afield, including a new mural in Lancaster.
A vibrant pair of “Young Heroes” portraits greets children arriving at the Nashua PAL building — towering reminders of strength and possibility.
Ramirez remembers being one of the only youngsters of color in his Nashua classrooms. He wants kids in New Hampshire to see themselves represented in art that is joyful, powerful and available to them always.
“I want kids that are like me to feel like there is a place for them here,” Ramirez says.
This brand of art in the street is an act of revolutionary positivity and community building — in an era urgently in need of both.