Artist still following his muse in painting town of Martinsburg

November 02, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • This photo illustration shows how a proposed mural would look on the side of 301 N. King St. in Martinsburg, W.Va. The mural's artist is David Heatwole.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Artist David Heatwole hopes to install another large mural along another major thoroughfare in downtown Martinsburg.

Heatwole said this week that he would like to install a multipanel mural painted on marine-grade plywood on the north side of a historic brick building at 301 N. Queen St.

"It's a very eye-catching spot," Heatwole said.

The city Historic Preservation Review Commission is expected to consider Heatwole's request  for a certificate of appropriateness for the project at their regular monthly meeting on Monday at 7 p.m.

Heatwole's latest public art proposal for the former location of the First Look Photo camera store comes about two years after his "Put a Lid on It" mural project was installed at 404 W. King St. downtown.

Composed of thousands of bottle caps and lids, the 8-foot by 16-foot depiction of artist Vincent van Gogh's famous self-portrait remains on display on the east side of Redbrick Gallery.

The new mural would be larger than the Van Gogh project and painted in a more traditional style, Heatwole said. The artwork will be waterproofed and treated to protect it from ultraviolet light. The panels could also be removed from the building at any time without affecting its appearance, according to Heatwole.

Main Street Martinsburg Executive Director Randy Lewis said the organization supports Heatwole's project and planned to attend Monday's meeting, but doesn't have any money to help with the cost.

The building, owned by James Van Evera III, is for sale, but his wife, Stephanie Van Evera, said they are no less supportive of Heatwole's project.

A national board-certified art teacher at Hedgesville High School, Van Evera said she first envisioned a mural for the side of the building about 30 years ago, but never got around to pursuing a project that was to include the neighboring Union Sales Dodge dealership building.

"I've always thought that murals add a lot of interest to the downtown," said Van Evera.

Before moving to Shepherdstown, W.Va., Van Evera said she and her husband lived in the upstairs of the building for a number of years, and he ran the camera store on the first floor. They closed the business about five years ago, but he still has the Hagerstown store, she said.

Heatwole said he anticipates having to finance the mural himself.

He said he has his eye on an ideal spot for a historically-focused mural in the city, but noted that he would need to be compensated to paint it.

As a fellow artist, Van Evera said she really appreciates and shares Heatwole's interest in collaboration and recycling in art, and hopes that his new project could spark interest and support from the community.

While the Van Gogh mural is a little more delicate than typical murals and has begun to show signs of deterioration, Redbrick Gallery owner Doreane Conrad said she still is happy with it.

"It really creates a lot of interest," Conrad said.

People want to touch the mural because of its unique composition of lids, and Conrad said she doesn't discourage that.

If approved, the mural would add to a growing number of permanent art projects in downtown Martinsburg.

A dozen "micro" murals installed on as many buildings in the historic business district were unveiled last year.

The small paintings installed last year reflect some aspect of the history of each building they have been attached to, according to Lewis, who sees art projects as a key to invigorating the downtown area.

One of the small paintings include a likeness of Major League Baseball star Hack Wilson on a baseball card. Wilson is buried in Martinsburg.

Artwork approved in 2004 and installed on the city's historic Market House depicts a master fiddler playing and two people listening.

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