Money derived from the public's fascination with Clintonville architecture is helping to pay for public art that pays homage to Clintonville architecture.

Money derived from the public's fascination with Clintonville architecture is helping to pay for public art that pays homage to Clintonville architecture.

If the weather cooperates, a mural will begin to take shape Monday, April 19, on a wall of Smith's Restaurant and Deli, 3737 N. High St.

The project is the brainchild of local resident Jodi Kushins, a native New Yorker who received her doctorate in art education from Ohio State University in 2007.

"I'm a big fan of public art, particularly what I would call community-based art," Kushins said.

Kushins, who has a bachelor's degree in studio art and art history from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and a master's in art and design education from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been toying with the idea of a mural in Clintonville for several years. She's lived in Columbus since 2003.

"I've been just sort of scouring the neighborhood and trying to find what people are thinking," she said. "There's definitely a lot of support for public art, in theory."

But it would have remained just that, an idea, Kushins said, had not someone brought to her attention about eight months ago the existence of the Clintonville Community Fund.

The neighborhood nonprofit organization seeks "to enhance the quality of life in the Clintonville community of north-central Columbus," according to its Web site. One of the main sources of income for the Clintonville Community Fund is an annual tour of homes, which last year, its 27th, took place in the Walhalla Ravine area and attracted more than 2,000 attendees.

Kushins, a customer of Smith's Restaurant and Deli, put together a proposal for the Community Fund to help pay for the project, sketched a possible design that incorporates examples of the architecture in Clintonville and, of course, got the permission of restaurant owner Jack Smith.

"I thought it was fine," Smith said. "I've got that whole north expanse of my building that could use either paint or something there. I figured, 'Well, why not a mural?'

"She said it wouldn't be any cost to me, and I said that sounds even better."

Smith added that he has seen the proposed design for the mural and, while no art critic, it gets a thumbs-up from him.

"It looked fine to me," he said. "I didn't know what to expect, but I thought it looked fine. It looked like Clintonville houses, Clintonville buildings."

"So the mural is sort of a collage of different styles of houses, and then I think we're going to work in some kind of change of seasons so it reflects that Clintonville is a great place to live any time of the year," Kushins said.

It's also going, she said, in just the right place.

"It seemed like a good location, not far from the farmers market and not far from the library," Kushins said.

Clintonville Area Commission member Mike Folmar, whose District 4 includes the restaurant and deli, likes the idea of the proposed mural.

"I'm in favor of it," he said. "I think this will be an exciting opportunity."

It's an opportunity that also might be worth trying in other parts of Clintonville, Folmar added.

"It's worked pretty well in the Short North," he said. "Hopefully if we have a number of places in Clintonville with art it lends the same degree of aesthetic appeal as the Short North.

"Not that we want to be the Short North."

The mural on the north side of the restaurant will be about 15 feet by 30 feet, according to Kushins.

The "canvas" for the mural was scheduled to be power-washed this week, with the image transfer set for April 19. Painting would begin the following day, according to Kushins. She will be leading the project and working with the students of Megan Mosholder, art teacher at the Graham School on Indianola Avenue. Some members of the Clintonville Arts Guild also will be involved in the painting, currently scheduled to take place over several weeks on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Others who might want to become involved in the project are welcome to contact Kushins via e-mail at jkushins@hotmail.com.

While those who attended last year's tour of homes in Walhalla -- this year's edition, the 28th, will be in the Northmoor neighborhood near the Park of Roses -- are helping to pay for the mural, other customers of the restaurant are pitching in, as well.

"I put out a donation jar at Smith's to collect the last dollars we need to fill out our budget," Kushins wrote in an e-mail. "People have been generously contributing and are welcome to continue to do the same. If we end up with more than we need, I'll give something back to the CAC that can be used for the next Clintonville public art project. Not sure it'll go that way, but I'm open to the possibility."

When she's not dreaming up murals to grace Clintonville buildings, Kushins is the associate pastor for Jewish life at Ohio Wesleyan University.

In that capacity she is a staff adviser to the Delaware college's Hillel and also provides cultural and religious programs for students, faculty and staff members interested in Judaism.

Kushins also works for the Dublin Arts Council, famed for its major outdoor installations such as the "Field of Corn" and the "Leatherlips" sculpture.

"But it's not necessarily what would fit in Clintonville," Kushins said.

Something reflecting the homes and buildings, she feels, will fit ideally.

The subject of the mural also, to some extent, reflects the designer's sense of place; she and husband Daniel Spurgeon live in a home his grandparents built in the late 1940s.

"We're here to stay," Kushins said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com