FITCHBURG — The handiwork of Jon Allen can be viewed all over the city, vibrant, large-scale murals and other creations that have given the talented artist avenues to share his creative vision.
“I love using art to enhance and celebrate community,” the 46-year-old city resident said. “Outdoor murals bring art to the people and celebrate the community that we live in and I love bringing that creative positivity to the people.”
His most recently completed project is a piece commissioned by Tacos Tequilas owner Elmer Melendez, a colorful 87-by-25 feet mural located on the back side of the Main Street eatery. Allen had help from two fellow artists with this latest venture, Magic Treasures owner Keila Jardim and New Hampshire based Chris Kairnes.
“She is a talented artist in her own right, and her store is an enormous supporter of local artists who show and sell their work in her space,” he said of Jardim and her Main Street shop, adding that they are developing a business model for a possible venture called Magic Murals. “It is our artistic mission to work with local businesses and to use our creative talents to bring beauty to the city of Fitchburg.”
Allen said he has been an artist for as long as he can remember, and like so many creatives, he feels deep down that “it wasn’t really a choice.”
“I was born an artist,” he shared.
He has been creating murals since 2006, the first one was in New York City where he lived from 1999 to 2009. The first mural he created in Fitchburg is the 140 feet by 26 feet Nashua River Mural that depicts environmentalist Marion Stoddart and fish swimming underwater.
“My first (city) mural was completely pro bono and initiated by my own initiative to share Marion’s mission and work,” Allen said.
He wrote on his website that it was the first large scale mural he undertook and shared a photo of a smiling Stoddard standing in front of it.
“After learning about the activism of Marion Stoddart, I was compelled to make a mural commemorating her amazing environmental activism,” Allen penned. “In the 1960’s the Nashua River was one of the most polluted rivers in the country. Marion decided to take action, and after organizing public support, she helped enact legislation that began the cleanup process of this beautiful river.”
His “Greetings from Fitchburg” mural, which has since been taken down due to new construction, was commissioned by NewVue Communities in 2017 as part of a public initiative to use art to revitalize the city. The following year he created a 70-by-13 feet piece on a sidewall on Main Street dedicated to turn-of-the-century industrialist Iver Johnson, who worked in Fitchburg and manufactured some of the first bicycles in the country.
“Fitchburg … has a rich history I like to celebrate with striking art,” Allen wrote on his website beside a photo of the Johnson mural.
In 2021 he painted the vivid Putnam Pileated Mural on Boulder Drive in collaboration with InTown Fitchburg and the city and in the spring of this year Allen again worked with the city as well as Commonwealth Murals, GoodSpace Murals, and the Montachusett Community Branch YMCA to create a mural at the east end of Boulder Drive depicting students in the after-school Spartacus program.
His art can be enjoyed at other various spots around the city and beyond, including the American flag on a wall at Mill City Pub, a mural in Worcester, a painting adorning a wall at Thirsty Robot Brewery, and more, nine creations in the city total and counting.
He and his team began the colorful Tacos Tequilas mural project in September and finished it a few weekends ago. Allen said he enjoys having his work showcased all over his hometown, an honor the Littleton High School art teacher does not take for granted.
“Sharing my work in the town I live in is amazing and I love the opportunity to be able to make the city look better and to use art to promote small and local businesses,” he said. “My goal is to continue to do this locally while also branching out into different regions of Massachusetts or any place in the world for that matter looking for public art that is in line with my talents and vision.”