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'Lonesome Touch' mural wins blessing of Martinsburg council

March 12, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Martinsburg City Council members Thursday night voted unanimously in favor of painting a mural on the side of the city-owned Market House, bringing the project one step closer to fruition.

Main Street Martinsburg members selected the mural "The Lonesome Touch" out of three proposals. The mural, to be done by Maryland artist William Cochran, will depict two violinists and a carpenter in two recessed arches on the Burke Street side of the building.

The Market House, home to a restaurant that is closed and undergoing repairs because of fire damage, is at the corner of Burke and Queen streets.

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The next step is for Main Street Martinsburg to submit an application for the mural to the Historic Preservation Review Commission. If the application is submitted by March 20, it will be discussed at the commission's April 5 meeting, said city planner/engineer Mike Covell.

A previous plan to paint a mural on a separate building on Queen Street fell through after the building's owner withdrew his permission. His decision was preceded by several people voicing opposition to the project.

Don Wood, a historian who sits on the Historic Preservation Review Commission, was against the idea, saying it would permanently deface a historic building.

For the most recent mural project, however, Wood wrote in a comment book that he favors "The Lonesome Touch" because it would not be painted directly on the building. The work will be painted on concrete panels, which will then be mounted on the building.

When three mural proposals were still being considered recently, Wood was one of many people who wrote down an opinion of the project in the book, which was placed at the Boarman Arts Center.

Another person who favored "The Lonesome Touch" wrote that it "is superior in every way. The mural needs to be good art and good art should have a timeless quality."

Another wrote: "I think that this design is the most complete and the best conceived plan. I would be proud to have this mural in my town."

A third wrote, "Exquisite. Simple, striking and apt."

Painting is expected to begin in April and conclude in August.

At the City Council meeting, only Councilman Donald Anderson expressed concern over the mural. He asked whether the artist could remove a sign to be painted that would read "The American Folklife Society."

No such society exists in Martinsburg.

Jeff Curtis, director of Main Street, said he is certain the artist would be happy to discuss the concern.

Anderson did not say why he opposed the sign and could not be reached after the meeting for comment.

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