Westerville News & Public Opinion

New community mural shows 'art is important'

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Residents helped paint the 100-foot by 16-foot mural along the Westerville Walk and Bike Route. The work was designed by artist Jeremy Jarvis.

A mural planned for nearly three months that had to dodge rainstorms and rescheduling has finally debuted along the Westerville Walk and Bike Route.

Painting of the mural, situated on wooden panels attached to the back of Cellar Lumber's sheds, began during a "community paint day" Aug. 2, but was quickly halted because of thunderstorms. Organizers dealt with showers throughout the month, but were able to unveil the work at a celebration Aug. 21.

The 100-foot-long, 16-foot-tall mural came together as a result of a partnership among the city, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH) and the art organization ALTernative. It attempts to raise awareness of mental and physical health.

Mayor Diane Fosselman spoke at the unveiling and said she's happy to have art along the path.

"To say art is important is an understatement," she said. "Westerville highly values art and the art community."

City officials also hope the mural deters graffiti on the sheds, which has been a problem in the past.

"When you get an artistic piece up, it doesn't tend to get tagged," police Chief Joe Morbitzer said. "When it does -- we saw this in Columbus -- the kids come out and fix it themselves because that's art that they own."

That sense of ownership comes from the community's involvement in the project.

Artist Jeremy Jarvis designed the piece, but it was similar to a paint-by-numbers setup, in which residents helped fill in the lines and complete the mural.

"We had a lot of support from the community," Jarvis said. "This was truly a community mural. There were volunteers here day and night."

From an aesthetic perspective, the artwork spices up the trail and gives Cellar Lumber -- the oldest business in Westerville -- a more colorful shed.

"Cellar Lumber ... is now a vibrant landmark in the community," ADAMH Board of Trustees Vice Chairman Derek Anderson said. "There are going to be traffic jams there now from people stopping to look. We might have to put up a traffic light."