Outlined in bold black paint, four little girls jump rope across colorful buildings and quilt patterns in Reynoldsburg's new mural, encouraging viewers to "Live in the Moment."

Artist Eliza Ho, with the design firm ALTernative, worked with more than 100 community volunteers and local artist Jeremy Wood to complete the mural painted on the outside wall of the Performing Arts Center at Reynoldsburg High School, 6699 E. Livingston Ave.

She said during a formal unveiling Oct. 9 the mural was "truly a community project."

It was completed thanks to a collaboration among the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, ALTernative, Reynoldsburg City Schools and the Reynoldsburg Parks & Recreation Department.

Community volunteers painted the background and the jump-rope lines, then Wood painted the girls.

"We did go back to touch up some of the mural areas, but it was truly a collaboration," Ho said. "I tell everyone that our goal is to engage the community. It is the process that is valuable, not just a pretty picture on the wall."

Ho and ADAMH public information officer Mackenzie Betts began to gather feedback for the mural in 2017 by talking to students, members of the Reynoldsburg Senior Center and other school and city groups.

"We asked people what they wanted to see -- what does Reynoldsburg mean to you?" she said. "We got a lot of feedback and also posted an online survey and sent out questionnaires."

The feedback led to three mural designs, which were presented to a committee that included Parks & Recreation Director Donna Bauman; Valerie Wunder, director of communications for Reynoldsburg City Schools; Donna Boiman, director of the Central Ohio Art Academy; school board member Debbie Dunlap; and residents Kellie Gedert, Arley Owens, Chris Reed, Joseph Sorenson and Larry Welch.

Dunlap said all three designs were "wonderful."

"One dealt more with the parks and the second was like a picture frame with scenes in little boxes," she said. "The design we chose jumped out because the entire community felt a sense of peace when they looked at it.

"ADAMH is trying to promote mental health and wellness, and the design made us all feel good inside," she said.

Ho gave the committee some guidance while considering the designs.

"We used three criteria evaluation tools," she said. "The first was being relevant -- the design must be relevant in terms of values and traditions in the community.

"The second was visual impact and the third was it had to be inspiring and meaningful to a broad audience."

Dunlap said the finished mural is "incredible."

"It is beautiful and vibrant," she said. "It brings new life to that area of the Livingston campus and after a yearlong process that involved students, senior citizens and community members on a number of different levels, it is truly a representation of our entire community."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, however.

"It is art, and not everyone is going to like it," Dunlap said. "As with any art, it is not going to mean the same thing to everyone. I look at the slogan 'live in the moment' and think it means to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy life, like those girls jumping rope. It's all about interpretation and what the design says to you."

She said two student interns from Reynoldsburg High School, Collette Gibson and Grace Kerr, helped to paint and coordinate efforts on painting days.

"Two cool things happened while I was painting -- two students left the high school and asked about the mural," Dunlap said. "An ADAMH representative asked if they wanted to help paint, and they did. They can look back on that now and know in 10 or 20 years that they contributed to the design."

Dunlap said two boys came by on bikes while the mural was being painted, then went home to get their mom so she could see the mural.

"In just the two hours I painted, this mural attracted people and a family, beginning a conversation," Dunlap said.

Reynoldsburg's mural is the sixth Ho has completed with ADAMH.

"This one struck me when I saw how receptive the community was and the overwhelming number of people who volunteered to help paint," she said.

Betts said at a school board meeting last month that the background imagery was based on feedback from students, who thought the design should include exercise and the quilts hanging in the senior center.

"We tried to get a quilt in there with a tomato to uniquely represent Reynoldsburg," she said. "So both the practice of exercise and getting outside reminds us to get back to nature and live in the moment."

ADAMH paid for all the materials and will maintain the mural for seven years, according to a contract signed in February with the district.

The agency has completed murals in East Columbus, Westerville, Dublin, Gahanna and Franklinton.

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

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