Northeast Arc Takes First Place

An employment specialist from Northeast Arc and an artist supported by the agency combined to create an award-winning mural at the Salem Arts Festival.

Pictured are Arelis O’Neal, left, of Lynn, a Northeast Arc program participant who shows art at the ArcWorks Community Center in Peabody, and Angela Gonzalez, a Northeast Arc employment specialist who serves as her job coach.

Angela Gonzalez painted the 72-inch x 42-inch mural with the help of Arelis O’Neal, who shows art at  the ArcWorks Community Center in Peabody, and for whom she serves as job coach. The mural won the People’s Choice Award in the Salem Mural Slam at the arts festival.

“Arelis told me how much she loves art,” said Gonzalez, who majored in art and theater at the University of Rhode Island. “I asked if she wanted to work on the mural with me.”

The mural was painted on a wood-framed canvas with supplies supplied by the festival. There were more than 100 applicants for the contest, of which about 10 were selected to participate. The artists had only one weekend to create the mural from start to finish.

O’Neal, 26, a Lynn resident and graduate of Northeast Arc’s Project Search work-readiness program at Salem State University, was thrilled with the recognition, Gonzalez said. “She was so excited when she found out we won. Her face glows anytime somebody asks her about the mural.”

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