FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New mural behind Gilley’s PM Lunch depicts bygone era in downtown Portsmouth
By LAINEY NADEAU
Democrat Staff Writer
PORTSMOUTH — A lot has changed since Gilley’s PM Lunch first came to Portsmouth in 1912, but thanks to John Richard Perry those days will always be remembered.
Behind Gilley’s, Perry recently completed a 12-foot tall, 20-foot long mural depicting downtown Portsmouth in 1912 complete with a horse-drawn Gilley’s lunch cart. The mural will be unveiled this Saturday.
Perry was asked to do the mural by Steve and Gina Kennedy, the owners of Gilley’s PM Lunch.
"Since 1912 people have been patronizing Gilley’s," Perry said. "People in Portsmouth already think of Gilley’s as a historical monument."
Now the history of Gilley’s has been set in Liquitex, a heavy duty acrylic paint. Perry said the mural should last how it is for 40 to 50 years. The mural was paid for by the city of Portsmouth and will be maintained by the city as a public monument.
Perry’s mural replaces a half-finished mural that had been on a wall behind the lunch cart for over 30 years. Gina Kennedy said the mural was painted by a former employee of Gilley’s named Pat, but was never finished.
When the city wanted to tear down the mural and build a parking garage they had to agree to pay for a new mural. The new mural is similar to the old mural, like the other mural it shows market square and the horse-drawn lunch cart, but the new mural also includes pictures of people.
"Before it was lifeless, now it has a lot of character, it looks like you could just walk into the mural," Kennedy said.
Perry has done art shows in cities across the United States but said Portsmouth is his favorite because it is one of the only cities that hasn’t been destroyed by mini-malls.
"Portsmouth is an important part of American history, it is nice to see the quaintness of the city, it is just a great atmosphere," Perry said.
When asked to paint the mural Perry was pleased to accept.
"It was right up my alley since I am a professional artist," Perry said. "I thought it would be a great contribution to the downtown area of Portsmouth, as well as to maintain the history of Gilley’s."
Perry, 56, and a resident of Wells, Maine, has been painting since he was 7 years old. His father is the famous marine artist Robert Lee Perry and Perry is a seventh-generation artist in his family.
For over 28 years Perry worked as the resident artist at Shelton’s, a quality gift shop and art gallery in York, Maine. Now retired, Perry still paints everyday and will be opening his own art gallery in a few weeks. The gallery, to be located at 117 Shore Road in Ogunquit, will be called Perry’s Studio and Gallery. The gallery will contain Perry’s original works and prints.
"I enjoy every aspect of art," he said. "It is my life, it flows through me like a life force. I do it everyday, seven days a week."
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of the mural will be held Saturday at 11 p.m. behind Gilley’s Lunch, located at 175 Fleet St. Kennedy’s 3-year-old son, Xavier, will be cutting the ribbon. Perry will be in attendance and the public is welcome.
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