Phoenix Books Burlington Unveils Kid-Friendly Mural | Live Culture

Phoenix Books Burlington Unveils Kid-Friendly Mural

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Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail) - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail)
Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline marching in front of Edmunds Middle School. Frog and Toad in City Hall Park. Dragons who love tacos catching a bite on Church Street. Stephen Huneck's Sally getting a walk — from a cat! — near the Winooski Bridge.

These are some of the whimsical details that careful observers will spot in the mural by Underhill artist Kristin Richland that was officially unveiled last night in the children's section of Phoenix Books Burlington. It's part of Children's Book Week (May 1 to 7), which the store will also celebrate with a special story time on Saturday devoted to Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri's Dragons Love Tacos.

"I'd been thinking about murals since we opened the store," said co-owner Michael DeSanto, who opened Phoenix in 2012 with his wife, Renée Reiner. But it wasn't until he visited Bemelmans Bar in New York's The Carlyle, and saw the beloved illustrator's murals of Central Park splashed across its walls, that he said, "That's what we want to do!"
Kristin Richland, atop her scaffolding - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Kristin Richland, atop her scaffolding

DeSanto asked Richland, whom he had known "for quite a while," to show him some drawings. The artist, 40, had never done a mural before, but her fanciful prints of animals, which she sells under the name Sweet Enemy Art, have made "people say I should illustrate children's books," she said.

Richland designed the mural last summer and began painting in October, perched atop a scaffolding 10 to 12 feet high. She took a break for the busy holiday season and finished by March.
Some of Richland's sketches for the mural, displayed at the May 4 reception - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Some of Richland's sketches for the mural, displayed at the May 4 reception

Although she's not really finished — a mural of a fiery phoenix for a different wall is still to come. And Richland is now on the Phoenix staff, as a bookseller at the local chain's Essex store.

Winding across the three walls enclosing the store's section for younger readers, the mural consists of six separate scenes. Two are pastorals, in which animals enjoy books with views of trees and Camel's Hump. The others depict prominent Burlington locations: the Winooski Bridge (with the Champlain Mill, once home to DeSanto and Reiner's store the Book Rack and Children's Pages, in the background),  City Hall Park, the Church Street Marketplace and Edmunds Middle School.
Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail) - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • Mural by Kristin Richland at Phoenix Books Burlington (detail)
In the Church Street panel, protestors in front of City Hall bear signs touting the importance of reading and supporting indie stores. It's a fitting message for 
More drawings for the mural - MARGOT HARRISON
  • Margot Harrison
  • More drawings for the mural
Phoenix, which has expanded to two more locations (in Rutland and Chester) since the Burlington store opened and was a finalist for Publishers Weekly's Bookstore of the Year award in 2016.

"You read it like a story," said Richland of her mural. "I'm basically illustrating a book right here."



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