Winter always brings the hope of canceled classes and fun in the snow, but some youngsters in Grandview Heights may have even more of a rooting interest in inclement weather this year.
More than 30 students participated in a project during the Sept. 28 Grandview Hop, working with graffiti artist Justin "Ketchup" Withrow to paint a city snowplow blade, graffiti-style.
Withrow started the project by outlining the words look out in black-and-white paint at several spots on the blade, which was attached to a city truck parked in the children's activity area during the Hop.
The monthly summertime sidewalk market and outdoor block party held along Grandview Avenue wrapped up for the season Sept. 28.
Youngsters who visited the activity area that night donned dust masks as they used cans of spray paint to add their own colorful designs and words to the blade.
"I'll come in afterwards to add some components and colors to make it all tie in together," Withrow said.
Graffiti art is becoming increasingly popular, he said.
"Kids really love spray-painting graffiti art," Withrow said. "It's the freedom of it. It's not as structured and can be a more self-expressive form of art than painting a landscape or a portrait."
He chose the words look out as the starting point for the cooperative artwork for their double meaning, Withrow said.
Lookout Supply is the art-supply store Withrow owns at 3440 W. Broad St. in Columbus.
" 'Look out' is also a message to drivers and pedestrians to watch out and give the plow some room when it's clearing the streets and coming their way," he said.
The plow painting project was coordinated by Grandview resident Henrietta Cartwright, working with the city's director of service, Darryl Hughes.
"Their plow needed painting, and the one thing he said is that he wanted it to be a project that students would do, and that fits in exactly with what we tried to do with the 5 Columns project," she said.
As part of the 5 Columns project, Cartwright arranged visits to Stevenson Elementary School from Ohio Arts Council artists between May 2017 and May 2019. The artists would spend a week working with students on art projects that were displayed on five metal columns installed on Stevenson's front lawn.
"The mission statement for 5 Columns was 'to bring unexpected and interactive art into the community and beyond,' " Cartwright said. "I think we exceeded all our expectations at the Hop.
"With the 5 Columns projects and this one as well, the idea is to have kids create artwork that adults in the community can view and enjoy."
Sofie Markle, 15, a sophomore at Grandview Heights High School, was among the students contributing to the snowplow painting.
"I've always been interested in art, but last Christmas I got some spray paint and I'm really enjoying doing graffiti art," she said. "It requires a different skill set from painting with a brush because you have to be able to handle the spray paint, and that can be difficult.
"You don't always know what's going to happen when you start spraying the paint and that's a different kind of challenge," Markle said. "Part of the fun is not being sure how things are going to turn out."
She works on graffiti-art spray-painting board she sets up in the backyard of her Grandview home, she said.
"Art is about self expression and graffiti art is a style that really allows you to explore your creativity," she said.
Julia Gray, 9, of Hilliard was trying out graffiti art for the first time at the Hop.
"I like drawing and I wanted to see what graffiti art was like," she said. "It was a lot of fun because it was something new."
Service department maintenance employee Ed Jenkins, who drove the truck to the Hop, said he enjoyed watching the students add their creative touches to the plow blade.
"It's going to add some color to the plow and make it a lot more fun to drive during the winter," he said. "It's just a nice way to add some fun to the community."
The youngsters seemed to enjoy participating in graffiti art, Jenkins said.
"This project is a nice outlet for the kids to do it in a productive and legal way," he said.