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Artists Hope To Beautify Canal Corridor

August 12, 2011

Photo provided: This image will be painted on the outside of the city utility office in St. Marys, which sits along the Miami and Erie Canal in downtown St. Marys.

ST. MARYS — Two artists will begin the creation of their project in downtown St. Marys next week as a contribution to the revitalization of the canal.

Mya Mackenbach Fannon, of St. Marys, and guest artist Connie Hill will be painting a mural on the back of the St. Marys Utility Building. The two art education majors met at Ohio State University and immediately found common ground.

“The first day that we had class, we started talking about murals,” Fannon said. “We just really clicked as people, and we had done murals before and were interested in murals.”

After deciding that they wanted to do a mural for their master’s project, Fannon and Hill began looking for the right location.

“We went to various places and put our feelers out to different places that might want it and thought this (the canal) would be the best,” Hill said.

Fannon noted that the two used a process that they had learned in school.

“There’s a process called asset mapping that we’ve learned at Ohio State, so we were looking for the assets that St. Marys has and felt that the towpath was definitely a big asset, and we wanted to add to it,” Fannon said.

The revitalization also drew the artists to creating the mural in that location.

“Part of the reason that this fit better than the other places was because of the revitalization that’s going on down there,” Hill said.

“We thought this would just be another wonderful addition to all that’s going on.”

Hill and Fannon brought two options for the mural to Mayor Greg Freewalt, who brought their project before city council. Councilors asked for a third option to be included and opened the decision of which mural to use to the town. Fannon and Hill were introduced to St. Marys Memorial High School student Garrett Burger.

“We wanted a high school student to design one (a mural),” Hill said. “We were asking for people to help, and he wanted to help design one, so we were like ‘great,’ so we worked with him to design that.”

The group worked together to design the winning mural of a boat on the canal. The option was the winner of a poll conducted by The Evening Leader by a large margin.

“That was his (Burger’s) idea, and I think that because he is here and a part of the community all the time, he tapped into what the community wanted, and that’s why it won,” Hill said.

Fannon said the design fits the area well.

“I think it goes along well with what is going on down there — the revitalization — but still has the tradition of the canal,” she said.

Though not from the area, Hill noted that she is from a similar town, Tiffin, and has enjoyed the reaction and support the community has given them.

“It’s funny because it’s kind of similar to this.” Hill said of her hometown. “I like revitalizing a small town like mine.”

Since arriving in St. Marys, Hill said she has enjoying getting to meet everyone that has made the mural possible and the reactions from residents.

“I’m excited to see how excited that everybody really is and that everybody really wants it here — it’s not just for me, it’s for everybody that’s here, and it’s for Garrett, who designed it,” she said.

The artists will begin painting the mural on Wednesday and are opening it up to help from the public.

On Aug. 21, 24 and 25, anyone over the age of 16 are encouraged to join Hill and Fannon to help paint the mural. On Aug. 20, they will be holding a family day for children under the age of 16. Fannon noted that residents can help paint or just observe.

“If they want to paint, if they want to watch — it’s the community’s wall, we’re just helping get it done,” she said.

Hill said participants do not have to have experience painting to help with the mural.

“You don’t have to be good at painting,” she said.

“We’ll show you what to do. We’ll give you flat colors, we’ll give you simple things to do. If you want to come but don’t have any experience, we won’t make them do anything too detailed.”

Anyone interested in participating in the family day can pre-register to avoid lines by contacting Hill at conniehill19@gmail.com or “Like” the “Mural on the Canal” Facebook page and fill out a form.

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