A mural highlighting Gorham’s past and present is nearing completion at the  University of Southern Maine and soon will be prominently displayed outside a downtown restaurant.

Art students on the Gorham campus are busy his week painting the 8-foot-by-12-foot mural under the watchful eye of the university’s artist-in-residence, Natasha Mayers. The mural will be installed the week of March 21 on the historic, century-old building housing Amato’s, at the corner of Main and South streets.

Carolyn Eyler, director of exhibitions and programs at the university’s art gallery, asked Mayers to work on a community project.

“I proposed that,” Mayers said Tuesday about the unique mural. “I’ve supervised about 600 murals mostly around the state.”

The mural by artists reflecting Gorham's past and present receives a thumbs up from University of Southern Maine artist-in-residence Natasha Mayers.

University of Southern Maine artist-in-residence Natasha Mayers gives a thumbs-up to students working on the mural reflecting Gorham’s past and present.

The Gorham mural is being developed on three permant sign panels with acrylic, outdoor paints that cost $652. An exterior varnish will protect the mural from the elements after it is mounted.

Gorham Town Councilor Ronald Shepard said Tuesday that the townspeople will find the mural interesting.

“It will bring back memories,” he said.

Bruce Roullard, town councilor and chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee, said Tuesday he’s excited about the project, but had not seen it yet. With historic sites depicted on the mural, Roullard said, it hopefully would complement downtown.

“I’m a strong supporter of art,”  Roullard said.

Mural artists have included community members and Gorham High School students in addition to university student artists. Tuesday, several students of university art professor Jim Flahaven’s Introduction to Painting class were busily at work on the mural in Robie-Andrews Hall on the Gorham campus.

The project highlights Gorham’s history with depictions that include the covered bridge, university’s art gallery, and Baxter Museum; and farms, produce and animals.

“I would love more cows,” Mayers said.

Other scenes show lumbering, trolley cars, trains, homes, churches and mills.

Among her instructions Tuesday to students, she noted the history of Gorham mentioned few women.

“I want women painted on here,” Mayers said.

The mural also shows present-day scenes like stores, restaurants, and schools.

“We could put a school bus at the elementary school,” Mayers suggested to students.

Even the town’s roundabouts on highways are featured.

“This town is crazy about rotaries,” Mayers said.

Mayers sought accuracy for the mural. University history professor Libby Bischof, a Gorham resident, provided historical research for the project and Shepard also contributed historical details.

The university’s art department said Amato’s is paying for installation of the mural and a small plaque will accompany it. Eyler has asked the mural be outside Amato’s for five years and perhaps longer, depending on the natural life of the mural.

The mural had not been unveiled to the public by Tuesday.

David Galbraith, Gorham zoning adminiostrator, on Tuesday said displaying the mural on a downtown building would not likely be a problem or require a sign permit.

“We’d want to see it in advance,” Galbraith said.