Bottle-cap mural in W.Va. to be taken down

November 17, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • In this Herald-Mail file photo, artist David Heatwole talks about his 8-foot-by-16-foot bottle cap and jar lid mosaic of Vincent van Gogh after it was unveiled in Martinsburg, W.Va. The mural will be taken down this weekend in Martinsburg after about two years on display.
Herald-Mail file photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A mural composed of thousands of bottle caps and lids to create a depiction of artist Vincent Van Gogh's famous self-portrait will be taken down this weekend in Martinsburg after about two years on display.

Artist David Heatwole said the 8-foot-by-16-foot mural installed at 404 W. King St. will be taken down Sunday.

The pointillist-style artwork has been "taking a little bit of a beating" from the weather, and Heatwole said he was concerned about the mural surviving another winter.

"The lids are starting to crack," Heatwole said.

Heatwole said he still is trying to find an indoor home for the mural, which he said was a collaborative effort that brought a lot of people together.

"It was a good experiment," Heatwole said. "I think it was really good for Martinsburg."

Part of the project's legacy was the creation of lid mural kits that students have assembled as part of their own collaborative art project, Heatwole said.

Since being installed on the east side of Redbrick Gallery, Heatwole's mural captured significant attention, according to gallery owner Doreane Conrad, who was happy to have the artwork on the building.

Earlier this month, Conrad said many people who stopped to see the artwork also wanted to touch the unique composition of thousands of bottle caps from soft drinks and laundry detergent jugs and lids from jars of pickles, spaghetti sauce and tubs of buttery spread.

Up close, the mural appears to be little more than a colorful display of trash.

From a distance, the uneven array of plastic and metal blends into a colorful depiction of a self-portrait of van Gogh with a bandaged ear and pipe.

Heatwole's project began in 2008 with the help of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, which began giving him plastic caps removed from bottles dropped off for recycling.

"It was fun while it lasted," said Heatwole, who added that he still has bags of lids at his home in Martinsburg.

Heatwole's latest mural project, meanwhile, promises to be more lasting than the lid mural since he plans to paint the artwork on Marine-grade plywood. The mural, which also will be more representative of Heatwole's artistic style, will be waterproofed and treated to protect it from ultraviolet light and attached to the north side of a historic brick building at 301 N. Queen St.

Heatwole said he hopes to have the new mural installed by early spring in coordination with other activities being planned in downtown Martinsburg.

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