At 15 feet high and 110 feet long, the bare wall of Shaw’s supermarket by the bike path may be the city’s largest blank canvas. But it’s not going to stay that way. The Montpelier Public Art Commission received 56 submissions in its national search for a painter to change that bland surface into a work of art, and it has announced the four finalists. “We were absolutely blown away by the response we got,” Ward Joyce, commission chair, said in a telephone interview. “All four of these are outstanding large wall muralists that have done many pieces.” Calling the past work by these artists “startlingly beautiful,” Joyce said the finalists will be awarded a $500 grant to prepare and submit a design proposal. The first part of the process was a request for qualifications, where artists provided examples of their previous work and were welcomed but not required to submit images or a written “sense of how they would approach this project.” The four finalists are Sophy Tuttle of Boston, Massachusetts, Damien Mitchell of New York City, Justin Suarez of Rochester, New York, and Mauricio Ramirez of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The runner-up is the team of Labonte, Krumpos, and Carpenter of Algoma, Wisconsin. The runners-up will be invited to submit a proposal if a finalist withdraws.Joyce said that even though the finalists don’t include Vermonters, all 20 pieces of public art that are already in Montpelier were created by Vermont artists, many of them from Montpelier. The finalists must submit a design by April 22, and the commission will announce the selected artist on May 9. The mural will be painted this summer and must be completed by August 8. The artist will be awarded a $19,000 grant that is paid for by Pomerleau Realty (the building owners), Shaw’s Supermarkets (the lessees), the commission, and Montpelier Alive. The finalists were selected by the commission and Montpelier Alive. The finalist will be selected by those two bodies, along with one representative each from Pomerleau Realty and Shaw’s. Another summer project the commission is working on are three murals to be painted on the interstate support structures at Gateway Park, between the Winooski River and U.S. Rt. 2/State Street, across from Green Mount Cemetery. Proposed by artist Carolyn Shapiro, who will supervise the painting of the murals, these works will be coordinated by the art commission, Joyce said, adding that he expected that students from Montpelier High School and U-32 will be involved in the painting. The Montpelier City Council has approved the commission’s request to apply for a Vermont Agency of Transportation permit. The agency previously approved permits for two murals that were painted on interstate structures across the river (by the bike path) by community members under Shapiro’s supervision. Joyce said the Gateway Park murals are still in the planning stages. According to a document provided to the city council, the director of the Green Mount Cemetery supports the project and the art commission, representatives from the cemetery, Montpelier and U-32 art teachers, and other community members will be included in the image selection process.