Monday, July 08, 2002

Mural aims to dress up Clifton

Parking lot painted in patriotic spirit

By Erica Solvig,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Her arms splattered with paint, Kelly McMahon has spent the last three Sundays helping her Seton High School classmates cover the retaining walls of a Clifton parking lot.

Amy Bretnitz, a Seton High graduate, and Christine Gardner, who will be a senior at Seton this fall, help paint the mural in Cliftons.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        “I've never done a mural before,” said the 15-year-old junior.“It's neat because it'll always be here.”

        About 15 volunteers have helped paint the lot's two walls with a patriotic mural and a night-sky scene.

        The art is part of the Clifton Mural Project, said Jim White, a 43-year-old resident who is spearheading the project.

        Before the painting started, the cement walls were a light gray. Now, George Washington is pictured next to Abraham Lincoln waving a flag. “America Forever” is painted above them amid clouds and a pale-blue sky.

        The other wall is painted a midnight blue with stars. A Clifton cow might join the wall later, Mr. White said.

        “This is my neighborhood -- I've been here for 20 years,” White said. “This is not the best place for a mural because people park their cars here, but the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel wasn't a perfect place because people have to look up to see it.”

        He approached neighborhood leaders and the merchants who own the parking lot two years ago to get permission and funding for the supplies.

        The first part of the project was last summer, with about 40 volunteers painting 16 minimurals on plywood and hanging them on the fence above the walls.

        Original plans called for the walls to say “Welcome to Clifton” across clouds.

        But after Sept. 11, Mr. White wanted to paint something that incorporated the American flag.

        “I wanted something simple -- something no one could object to,” he said. “After Sept. 11, I was a little more patriotic, like we all were. I figured people would welcome this more.”

        The teens started on the walls June 23, coloring in Mr. White's penciled sketch with more than seven gallons of paint. The mural should be complete within three weeks.

        Sunday was 17-year-old Christine Gardner's first day at the mural.

        The Seton High senior said she was excited about being involved.

        “I can tell my friends, "Do you see that? I painted George Washington's shirt,' ” she said.


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