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Historic Commission OKs sign for art school and gallery

September 02, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

The Hagerstown Historic District Commission gave the nod Thursday for an unconventional sign in the downtown historic district, saying while the sign was not typical, it worked.

The commission granted a certificate of appropriateness for the Contemporary School of the Arts & Gallery Inc. to hand-paint a sign above the gallery on Franklin Street.

Steve Bockmiller, the city's development planner and zoning administrator, said city staff questioned if the painting actually was a sign for the gallery or if it was just a mural.

Because the 4-foot-by-20-foot sign will advertise the gallery, Bockmiller said staff felt treating the painting as a sign was more appropriate.

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Ron Lytle, founder of the gallery, said he wanted a sign that would showcase the work of a local artist, draw eyes to the building and showcase what the school does.

The sign will feature children, he said.

Half of the sign above the property at 4 W. Franklin St. is complete and shows tubes of paint pooling into a rural landscape scene.

The other half will show a diverse mix of children framed in colorful hands, Lytle said.

Hagerstown artist Mary Wunderlich, 19, is painting the sign, he said.

Burnest Griffin III, the gallery's curator said that in his view, the commission previously held a conservative line with what it approved for facades in the downtown historic district and the arts and entertainment district.

"I like the fact that the historic commission of the city approved it," he said. "The fact that they approved this shows that maybe I was wrong in my assessment of them."

Robert Hershey, chairman of the historic district commission, noted that the colors Lytle proposed for the sign were brighter than the white and maroon on the building's facade.

"I have no problem with that," he said of the proposed artwork.

Historic district commission members questioned what words would appear on the sign and how the two sections would work together.

Lytle said the words "After-School Art Classes" would be above the children on the left panel. The landscape scene would be on the right, he said.

He anticipated that Wunderlich would finish the sign in the next few weeks.

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