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From eyesore to work of art

  • Chaz Beaulieu sits on scaffolding as he paints Star River, a old cement boat near his Greenville home. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/9/2020 11:45:03 AM

Chaz Beaulieu found himself with a lot of time on his hands when the coronavirus essentially shut down the world around him.

So the Greenville artist got an idea: he was going to turn an abandoned old cement boat sitting on a piece of property near his home into a piece of art.

“The boat has been around for about 12 years,” Beaulieu said. “It’s on the way to my house and it’s so ugly. And during the pandemic I wasn’t doing much or going anywhere.”

Once the weather turned nice, Beaulieu got out his paints, first giving it a fresh coat of white and then started what he is now calling “Star River.”

Beaulieu has been reading ancient Chinese poetry for three decades and the term Star River is the way the ancient Chinese referred to the Milky Way, he said.

The boat, which Beaulieu said is about 25 to 30 feet long, has been a real eyesore in his neighborhood and since it has been sitting there for a long time, he figured it was time for an upgrade.

Beaulieu said it has been nice to work on the project without a deadline or commission forcing a timeline, so he has just been painting when conditions allow. Since it sits in the middle of a field, when the sun is at its highest point, it can get very hot, so he tends to work on it early in the morning and in the evening.

“I would need to wear sunglasses to be out there during the day,” Beaulieu said.

He has been fortunate that the weather has been nice in recent weeks, giving him ample opportunity to peck away at the project that will mostly be enjoyed by those who live around his Darling Hill Road home. For now, Beaulieu is only painting one side – the one that can be seen from the road.

“I just wanted it to look nice,” he said. “And it will really standout in the winter when all the color is gone.”

He hopes to finish it in the next week or so, but isn’t worried about when the final touches are done. He is just enjoying the process that has kept him busy over the last few months.

On the white background, Beaulieu has put a number of stars, using yellow, orange and pink acrylic paints. He likens the stars to what is seen in Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night”.

“When I was a kid, van Gogh was my favorite artist,” he said.

But like all artists, Beaulieu put his own twist on the work.

“I just did my own version of a sky full of stars,” he said. “And there’s enough stars on there where you can make your own pattern.”

The swirly stars “almost look like little suns,” Beaulieu said. He has done the entire project free hand, working on it one section at a time.

Since the boat is on stilts, Beaulieu had to set up scaffolding to get access to every surface. But that creates its own set of challenges.

“There’s only so much time in the day you can spend on scaffolding,” he said. “It was a big project and I really didn’t know how long it would take me.”

But with a lot of free moments on his hands, Beaulieu has enjoyed the creative process. Because as someone who has used art for many different reasons over the year, it has helped fill all those days and weeks when there is so much uncertainty in the world around him.


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