With the help of 55 community members, preliminary work has begun on a 100-foot long mural on a wall at the Reynoldsburg High School Livingston campus.

Priming the outside wall at the school's Performing Arts Center at 6699 E. Livingston Ave. was supposed to start Sept. 8 but weekend rains delayed that until Sept. 11.

Paint-by-number sessions on the mural's design are scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 14 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15. All 55 available volunteer artist slots were filled by Labor Day weekend.

The completed design is under wraps for now, however, although spectators will see aspects of the design take shape as it is painted, said Mackenzie Betts, public information officer for the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County.

"We would like it to be a surprise, so that people will watch the progress of the design and see it start to be what it will be," she said.

ADAMH is sponsoring the project, along with the design firm ALTernative, Reynoldsburg City Schools and the city of Reynoldsburg Parks & Recreation Department.

The theme of the mural is "Live in the Moment." The design is intended to "symbolize the Reynoldsburg community's vitality, openness and optimism," Betts said.

School board member Debbie Dunlap, who is on the mural committee, said the group looked at community feedback before deciding on a design.

"We had the community in mind, and all the people from different walks of life that had given feedback," she said. "When I looked at this design, there was a sense of calmness and motion. It is youth and it is young and it also represents diversity."

Betts is also on the committee, along with Parks & Recreation Department Director Donna Bauman; Donna Boiman, director of the Central Ohio Academy of Art; Kellie Gedert, Arley Owens, Chris Reed, Joseph Sorenson, Valerie Wunder and Larry Welch, along with Eliza Ho, artist and project designer from ALTernative.

"Eliza went to the high schools and to other organizations, such as Simple Church and put out a survey asking for feedback for the mural," Betts said. "We asked people what makes them proud and what they would like others to know about living in Reynoldsburg."

She said the survey drew 50 responses.

Betts gave some clues about the final design, saying it was inspired by "student ideas that exercise is a good way to deal with daily stress" and visits to places around Reynoldsburg such as the senior center.

"A lot of the pattern imagery is based on our visits, like the quilts we saw at the senior center," she said. "We tried to get a quilt in there with a tomato to uniquely represent Reynoldsburg. So both the practice of exercise and getting outside reminds us to get back to nature and live in the moment."

Incorporating volunteers as artists is a way to help the community "own" the project, she said.

"People can say, 'I painted that square' or 'I painted that person on the wall,' " she said. "The project becomes more than a painting on a wall; it becomes an experience to remember."

Volunteers and professional artists will complete the mural this month, then the finished product will be revealed on a yet-to-be-determined date in early October.

School board members signed a contract with ADAMH in February that calls for the agency to pay for all materials and maintenance of the mural for seven years.

The agency also funds mental health and substance abuse-prevention services throughout Franklin County and in 16 school districts, including Reynoldsburg.

The Reynoldsburg mural is the fifth the agency has completed in central Ohio, after working on projects in Westerville, Dublin and the east side and Franklinton areas of Columbus, A mural also is in the works for the city of Gahanna.

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