NEWBURYPORT — After weeks of dealing with a placement mix-up, the quintet of pastel shanties opened for business Monday morning at a new location on the city's waterfront.
The five wooden structures are part of the Newburyport Arts and Culture Shanty Program – a collaboration among the city, the Firehouse Center for the Arts, BLB Custom Builders and other arts programs. They will feature a weekly rotating cast of artists who will be working and selling their wares on site through October.
"We're open for business!" Firehouse director John Moynihan exclaimed Monday morning as the program's first round of artists set up shop inside three of the shanties.
"It's very exciting," he said. "I think it's going to be a really great opportunity to activate this area of the waterfront, and help get the people who are walking on the boardwalk out here and seeing the great things that Newburyport has to offer in terms of the local art scene."
The opening marks the end of a dispute surrounding the shanties, which first appeared on the west side of Waterfront Park in early June and caused concern because four of them were accidentally placed on land owned by the Waterfront Trust.
But over the weekend, all five shanties were lifted by a crane and relocated to their new home on a parcel of Newburyport Redevelopment Authority-owned land near Custom House Way.
Moynihan acknowledged that the path toward the shanties' opening wasn't the smoothest, but said he is glad to see everything work out.
"It's been great working with the city, and the Waterfront Trust was very understanding," said Moynihan. "They helped us work through all that and get us to this point. July first, it's a new month — here we go."
The shanties were funded by a $30,000 grant from the Essex County Community Foundation and the Barr Foundation.
Artists will now be located at the shanties daily, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.
This week's lineup of artists features painter Herb Crooks, jewelry artist Marianne Janik and visual artist Tim Connors.
Two of the shanties are unoccupied this week, though in the future one will house a fourth artist while the fifth, larger shanty will be a sort of performance space.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the local artists who aren't able to show their art in a gallery on a regular basis or have their own space, which I think is a major tenet of what the Firehouse is here for," said Moynihan.