Let me paint a picture for you.
Imagine driving down East and West Main Street and passing sides of well-known buildings on the strip, beautified by artistic murals.
There's one mural on the side of Centennial Blueprint at Main and Ridge. Stop at Broad and Main and peer at the mural on the side facade of McQuillin Studio.
There are another two on the massive span of the North Penn Boys' and Girls' Club wall and the side of Hen's Coins and Collectables at Main and Susquehanna. Across the street, adjacent to Railroad Plaza, there is a fourth mural along the side of Tabora Farms.
Up a little ways, a fifth mural spanning the length of the National Auto Stores building on Wood Street. As you head out of town, approaching Cannon Avenue, is a sixth masterpiece on the Univest building at Main and Richardson.
These visions hope to be realities for members of the Lansdale Business Association — and they want volunteers and supporters to build support and proffer ideas for Lansdale's potential easels.
By next week, the LBA will establish a 7-member committee of volunteers and artists, who will work on developing visions for the Main Street Murals Project.
"The big thing: we need people to support us and come forward," said Lansdale Business Association President Doug DiPasquale. "We need volunteers. Let's offer ideas. This is not something that is, finalized, LBA; it's a community decision."
DiPasquale said the LBA mural project has been the most-discussed item in the association over the past 10 months. Furthermore, the LBA is coming off of 2012 with its strongest fiscal performance in years.
"This is not the business community's town and this is not the residents' town," said DiPasquale, who runs Minuteman Press.
It will take both those entities, however, to make the mural project a success in Lansdale.
"We want to connect builders and painters and start brainstorming," he said. "Let's put feet on it, give it legs and start developing it in the community."
A committee will work with nonprofits, schools and private organizations to further develop the murals, said LBA Executive Committee member Ellen Foulke. Foulke studied art history and painting at University of London and Sarah Lawrence College.
This committee would also field ideas, accept drawings and sketches, and invite community members to offer input on the project.
"An artist will not have carte blanche over a wall," Foulke said.
Final ideas would then be turned over for the public to decide, either through an online survey or voting at events like First Friday, or both.
"We are certain that everyone will want to be heard in regard to their particular visions, and be useful in their own ways," said Foulke. "The challenge will be to facilitate cooperation and coordination of the various groups."
In its embryonic efforts, the LBA has identified at least 10 buildings along Main Street that could use a mural. The buildings, according to Lansdale Business Center manager Foulke, are frequented by children and adults alike.
"Most of them are noticeable as you drive through town," Foulke said.
One hurdle the LBA will soon face: getting building owners on board. Foulke said Tabora Farms is interested in a mural, but it does not own its building. She said business owners of Centennial Blueprint and McQuillin Studio do own the buildings where their businesses are located in Lansdale.
"This is just the right kind of project to generate excitement for Lansdale," said DiPasquale. "It's a perfect way to tie in with the goals and other efforts made by Discover Lansdale and the borough to beautify our town. Remember, that in the brand narrative, it does talk about beautification of the town. This is a good route."
DiPasquale emphasized this project is an independent project from Discover Lansdale and the borough, under direction of the LBA.
He said Lansdale Community Development Director John Ernst requested no murals advertise any business, in pictures and words. In the long run, no one knows how long a certain business would even physically exist in Lansdale.
The murals, Foulke said, could have history as its themes, and say something about the town. But it all comes down to what the people of the town say.
"Enthusiasm is required," Foulke said. "There is no limit on how small or big it could be. We want people who can help to establish the shape of the project. I'm confident that a lot of people have a whole lot of ideas."
She said the LBA could, realistically, get one or two facades completed this year.
Can you think of a facade where a mural would look good in Lansdale? Tell us in the comments.
Murals are not something new to Lansdale; there is history of them in the town.
One mural used to exist on the white building across the parking lot from Chantilly Floral at Main and Walnut, which houses Famous Grocery convenience store, among others. Four murals, these depicting scenes of baseball, football, tennis and soccer, are visible on the bleachers of Weaver Field at Memorial Park on Line Street.
Did you know? If you are not representing a business in the North Penn area, you can join the Lansdale Business Association as a "Friend of the LBA" by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and writing "Friend" in your contact information.
This looks to be "The Year of the Mural" in the Lansdale Business Association. Events like the upcoming business mixer on Feb. 27, the annual Chalk Walk, the 2013 LBA Gala and the Chili Cook-Off, for example, will have a twist on them to gain awareness and raise money for the art installation project.
"We can't do it alone," DiPasquale said. "We need a big group of people; we need support of painters and artists."
Local painters and artists, such as Sellersville artist and art gallery organizer Amy Rims, have voiced ideas or support for the project already. The LBA has a good relationship with the North Penn Art Alliance too. Foulke said she has been talking with an Allentown mural artist to get his input on such a process.
"Art is subjective," Foulke said. "It's important to have discussions and bring people in."
Foulke said it is premature to say if an artist is on board. If anything, artists are consultants for the time being.
"We welcome any and all who want to volunteer," DiPasquale said. "It's not just LBA driven."
Foulke said volunteers and committee members need not be local business owners or Lansdale proper.
"They are not limited to the footprint of Lansdale by any means," Foulke said. "There's a benefit for all voices to be heard. It's everyone's community."
The LBA would have to request bids from contractors who specialize in preparation and painting of different masonry facades in order to receive artwork.
"You always hear it takes so long because of certain things," DiPasquale said, "but we want to move as fast as possible. We want to make sure it gets done right. We are not going to sit on this."
Want to volunteer for the mural project? Have an idea to share? Want to join the LBA? Contact the LBA via email at email@example.com with your contact information and address.
Lansdale Business Association meets every third Monday at 5:25 p.m. at Lansdale Borough Hall, and every second Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at Lansdale Borough Hall.