Olentangy Valley News

Orange High School

Freshman's brush spices up pizzeria's wall

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PAUL VERNON/THISWEEKNEWS
Orange High School freshman Amanda Ba poses Sunday, March 10, in front of the mural she's creating at the Mellow Mushroom pizzeria on Polaris Parkway. Ba won $400 along with the chance to paint the mural.
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When he was in high school, Colby Zachrich, owner of the Mellow Mushroom pizzeria on Polaris Parkway, wanted to be an artist.

But in the small town where he grew up, there weren't many opportunities for young artists to display their work.

So when the mural in the entryway of the Polaris franchise started to chip and fade, he reached out to area students for help.

Zachrich held a contest, asking students at Olentangy Orange High School to submit designs. Restaurant visitors voted and chose a design by freshman Amanda Ba.

In addition to having her artwork featured in the restaurant, Ba won a $400 cash prize.

On a warm, breezy afternoon Sunday, March 10, she was hard at work with paintbrush in hand.

The 14-year-old's dreamlike design features the faces of a man and a woman awash in bright, bold colors.

Ba said her design complements Mellow Mushroom's fun, "trippy" aesthetic. She said she hopes her mural is eye-catching and memorable.

"I wanted to combine elements of pop art and psychedelic art," she said. "The colors are the most important part."

She plans to finish the mural this month.

Ba, a self-taught artist, has been drawing all her life. Her favorite mediums are pencil and watercolor paints, and people are her favorite subjects, she said.

But she had never tackled a project like this one: The mural covers an entire 8-by-12-foot wall.

Fortunately, she's not going it alone. A handful of friends have joined her to work as assistants during weekend painting sessions.

Last weekend, her friend Suejee Lee stood atop a ladder, painting an upper section of the mural.

Lee also entered the contest, but took a narrow second place to Ba's entry. She doesn't begrudge her friend's success.

"I knew the winner was a great person, and I knew she did it for the art and not just for the money," she said.

Lee, a more experienced painter and a junior art student at Orange High School, said she was helping her friend make color choices for the completed mural.

Briana Kindberg, art teacher at Orange High School, said Ba is an ambitious and independently motivated artist.

"I think her design fits the atmosphere of the restaurant brilliantly, and her style and color choices are so eye-catching," Kindberg said. "They really suit the location and will make a big impact on diners as they walk in the front door."

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