CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) — Bill Dunlap is looking for a few good barns.

The artist, based in Cumberland, has been commissioned by the University of Maryland to paint murals on the sides of barns throughout the state, hopefully one in every county.

So far he’s completed several — in Montgomery, Kent, Cecil and Queen Anne’s counties — and he’d like to find a barn in Western Maryland next.

“I’m very happy with how these two most recent barns came out,” said Dunlap, who painted the Eastern Shore murals during the week following Hurricane Irene. All of Dunlap’s murals include images and text — usually an excerpt from a poem. But unlike the first murals, which depict colorful monsters in natural settings, the most recent aren’t quite as bold.

“I felt that I was encountering some resistance to the imagery I’d been using on previous barns, when I had the idea of a large-scale quilt pattern that covered the entire side of a large barn,” Dunlap said of the mural he painted at Crow Farm in Kent County.

The mural, which includes a star pattern in bright oranges, blues and greens, is 60 feet long and 20 feet tall. Each quilt star is 7 feet tall and 14 feet wide. The poem is a passage from John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.”

“I think that the quilt pattern combined with contemporary colors, patterning and lettering has the potential for an interesting combination of folk forms and contemporary style,” Dunlap said. “I think there is a lot more that could be done in combining these different approaches.”

The mural project, called Poetic Aesthetic in Rural Maryland, was organized by the University of Maryland’s Gallery of Art, and is designed to bring contemporary art to unlikely places.

Dunlap, who graduated from Fort Hill High School in 1984, has shown art across the country and splits his time between Cumberland, where he has a studio, and New York City.

Information from: Cumberland (Md.) Times-News,

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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