Mural designs up for review in Martinsburg

February 05, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - One mural design, in black and white, depicts two violinists and a contractor. Another, in vibrant colors, depicts a train engineer, coal miners, an orchard worker, a construction worker and a surveyor. The third depicts soldiers in tan camouflage embracing loved ones.

That they contain people is about all the three proposed murals for downtown Martinsburg have in common. The designs are on display at the Boarman Arts Center in Martinsburg.

Anonymous comments about the murals will be accepted through Feb. 27. As of Wednesday afternoon, no comments had been written in a notebook at the Boarman.


Despite controversy over whether a mural is appropriate for downtown, David Hartley, chairman of Main Street Martinsburg's design committee, said it will benefit the city.

"Murals, first of all, have been very successful in historic towns across the country," Hartley said.

A mural in Martinsburg would bring art to the public and bring more people downtown, he said.

A design will be selected in March. Painting is expected to begin in April and conclude in August, according to information at the Boarman.

Photographers with the Boys & Girls Club will document the progress.

The mural contest originated after a plan to paint a mural of an old marching band on the side of a Queen Street building fell through. After several business owners and city residents voiced opposition to the idea, the building's owner withdrew his permission.

Five other building owners said a mural could be painted on one of their walls.

Each of the three artists, whose names were not provided, chose a different building.

  • One proposal, titled "Martinsburg: Northern Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley," will depict "five cartouches, each emphasizing a facet of the industriousness of Martinsburg residents past and present."

    Figures would be painted in five recessed areas above DeFluri's Fine Chocolate at 130 N. Queen St. Sketches at the Boarman show people drawn in an adult cartoon style with "vibrant sunrise hues."

  • Another proposal, "Welcome Home," depicts two soldiers, each of which would be painted on a different building. One of the soldiers is running to embrace a child, while the other closely holds his sweetheart.

  • Lastly, "The Lonesome Touch" would be painted in black and white in two arches along the side of the city-owned Market House building.

In one arch, two violinists - one old, one young - would be painted. In the next would be a contractor, a hammer in his pants loop, his hand held to his chin.

Above the contractor is a sign that reads "The American Folklife Society."

In the proposal, the artist wrote, "'The Lonesome Touch' is a term of description and praise among traditional musicians for a musician's ability to capture a transcendent, heartfelt quality in his or her playing. In this mural two unrelated figures on window sills appear perfectly still, lost in thought. Upon closer inspection their preoccupation is explained by a master fiddler within the new Martinsburg headquarters of the fictional American Folklife Society, playing a traditional melody."

Main Street Martinsburg officials have secured a grant of up to $16,000 to pay for the mural.

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