The walls of Downtown Parkersburg have a renewed vibrancy, thanks to Downtown PKB’s new downtown mural series. Found throughout town, the mural series features original artwork created by local artists and is spearheaded by the Downtown PKB Arts and Culture Committee.
“The downtown mural series helps support the mission of Downtown PKB by making the landscape of downtown more vibrant, create a sense of place and entice more people to come to downtown to check out the artwork for themselves,” said Wendy Shriver, Downtown PKB Executive Director.
The call for artists was announced a year ago and from the submissions received, a handful were chosen to be installed in 2019. The first mural went up on the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau’s building on Avery Street of the gazebo at Point Park and was hand-painted by Emma Romanowski, an art teacher at Parkersburg High School. The second, depicting a giant catfish jumping in front of the Fifth Street Bridge, was painted by Erica Ash and installed as a vinyl brick wrap on the Point Park Marketplace building. The third, designed by Mike Penn, is an illustration of a streetcar and was installed as a vinyl brick wrap along the trestle on Sixth Street. Both vinyl brick wraps were installed by Jordana Bungard of Studio 618.
They are great reminders to me of the talent we have in our town, and the energy that’s building makes me excited for what’s to come.
All three murals are part of the “Selfie Station” series, encouraging residents and visitors to interact with the murals and share photos using the #wearePKB tag on social media.
“I love the murals that have been popping up all over downtown Parkersburg!” said Michelle Waters, Parkersburg-based photographer and member of the Arts and Culture Committee. “They are great reminders to me of the talent we have in our town, and the energy that’s building makes me excited for what’s to come.”
The project began last year with student art that was turned into window clings and installed on the Cox Building on Market Street last winter. “We got a wonderful response when we asked for student work for the series on the Cox Building (the Actors Guild Annex),” said Jessie Siefert, Chair of the Downtown PKB Arts and Culture Committee and Managing Director of the Parkersburg Art Center. “Many adults responded to our posts wanting to be a part of artful things in town. The submissions for the selfie station murals were all wonderful, our committee had a very hard time selecting which pieces to feature.”
Selections were made by the Arts and Culture Committee, which is made of up local artists, nonprofit leaders, members of city government and members of the business community. “It was difficult for our committee to choose just one,” said Siefert. In addition to the Selfie Station murals, the Greater Parkersburg CVB chose a fourth piece to install as see-through window clings on their windows facing 7th Street. The project also includes a “Welcome to Parkersburg” banner on the WestBanco building and the #wearePKB banners hanging on the Parkersburg Art Center, the graphic work and photography for which was done by Michelle Waters.
We want to foster a creative community and engage community members in the process.
“This mission of the Parkersburg Art Center is ‘To promote, enhance, and contribute to the artistic and cultural lives of families living in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” said Seifert. “Project like this directly address our mission. We want to foster a creative community and engage community members in the process.”
Seifert said Downtown PKB has already spoken with two additional businesses interested in installing murals on their buildings. “We also hope to include some sculptural pieces moving forward,” she said.
In addition to public art projects, the Arts and Culture Committee is instrumental in planning ArtOberfest, which highlights the arts, food, and music in Parkersburg’s arts district. The German-style arts fair will be held in the 700 and 800 blocks of Market Street on Saturday, October 19th from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. “New happenings this year include ‘Chalk the Block,’ where attendees can watch artists create street chalk art and try their own hand at creating with chalk, and an Art Car and Bike Show,” said Seifert. Attendees can also look forward to live performances from Morgan Stubbe, Levi Westfall, and High Schools That Rock as well as festival beer from the Parkersburg Brewing Co.
For Downtown PKB and the Arts and Culture Committee, the latest additions to Parkersburg’s mural landscape are only the beginning. Those interested in becoming more involved are encouraged to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It seems that the more art is available, the more important it becomes,” said Seifert. “With each new project, those that came before gain renewed attention. We plan to keep this rolling!”