Work on a new collaborative mural in Belpre has begun
Last weekend, volunteers gathered at the Barclay Street Tunnel near Belpre High School ready to paint. Their mission? To create a colorful new mural as part of the Brighten Belpre Mural Project, which is a collaborative effort to enhance community spaces through art installations.
Reed Byers is one of the coordinators for Brighten Belpre. For him, this mural means bringing the community together to do something positive – through supporting arts and culture, and in turn, economic development.
“With the explosion of murals in Marietta and Downtown Parkersburg (GoodSpace, the CVB, Wood County Society, the Floodwall, etc.) I felt like it was Belpre’s turn to brighten their community,” said Byers. “Downtown MOV has so much potential and it’s vital we continue to attract and retain citizens locally. I thought this would be a great way to continue to support the collaborative arts efforts happening in the Mid-Ohio Valley.”
I’ve always wanted to do something with this tunnel by the school. So when Reed contacted me about wanting to do a mural, I jumped at the opportunity.Chad Stevens
More than a dozen volunteers participated on Saturday, April 23rd, after the tunnel’s surface had been prepped the previous week. Marvin Edwards, owner of Maka Mia Pizza in Parkersburg, provided lunch for everyone on site.
“It’s a beautiful day to make some art!” said Chad Stevens on Saturday. “I’ve always wanted to do something with this tunnel by the school. So when Reed contacted me about wanting to do a mural, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Stevens said students at Belpre High School were asked to come up with possible designs, which were then shared with the community for input. Organizers chose the design the community most responded to, featuring bright sunflowers against blue skies.
“The design is by Katie Woodford, a 10th grader at BHS,” said Stevens. “She would be here painting today, but she has softball games,” he said. Stevens said he plans to bring groups of students back to paint once the mural is underway. “The community is definitely excited to see this busy little tunnel brighten up!”
I’d like to see more art events like this all over the area. It’s also helping to build up the local art community, which makes me feel incredibly supported as an artist.Rebekah Williamson
Organizers reached out to community organizations and residents for support in covering materials and preparation costs. Donations came in from the Belpre Rotary Club, Belpre Women’s Club, Mario and Kelli Coon, Bob Rauch, Jennifer Buzzard, Mayor Mike Lorentz, Connie Miller, Fire Chief Tony Cronin, and the Belpre Police Department. Edward Escandon generously donated his time, resources, and expertise to help prepare the tunnel for painting. Local artist Rebekah Williamson also helped extensively with prep work.
Williamson said she became involved after talking with Byers and Stevens about their shared desire to make public art spaces a more common theme in the Mid-Ohio Valley. “This mural benefits the community by making it more beautiful and the whole process has engaged young artists and is bringing people in the community together with a common goal,” she said.
“I’d like to see more art events like this all over the area. It’s also helping to build up the local art community, which makes me feel incredibly supported as an artist,” she said.
Work continues on the mural this Saturday, April 30th, beginning at 9:00 am. Those interested in painting are welcome to meet at the Barclay Street Tunnel to join in the fun.
“I love community projects,” said Williamson. “I brought four friends with me and the connections that were made between all of us who were there have opened doors for grant research/writing, future community projects, and a real sense of camaraderie as we all painted, sang, and laughed together. I’ve enjoyed every moment.”