Putting a new face on downtown

First Posted: 8/9/2014

LIMA — It may have been a shot in the dark, but it appears to have been right on target.

With a recently completed mural depicting several prominent Lima residents, both past and present, now adorning the Don Jenkins Jewelers building on Elizabeth Street, Diane Rogers and Square Fair Inc. have been basking in the postive reviews.

“The reaction has been excellent,” Rogers said. “Since it’s been up, there’s been a lot of buzz. It’s surprised everyone.”

With Square Fair put on hiatus this year, the organization behind the festival turned its attention to adding visual art to the downtown landscape.

“When we conceived the community mural, we threw it out there as a pilot project for public art,” Rogers said. “I feel there is a void in public art in our community compared to others.”

When this idea was first made public in November, Square Fair Inc. did not do any major advertising, rather relying on word of mouth to generate interest. Organizers also decided not to create additional limitations or criteria for the mural, rather allowing whoever wanted to pay the fee to determine who was depicted by artist Ruth Ann Sturgill.

“Our hope when we started this was that we would have 20 names, and by the time it was done, all the artist could do was 29,” Rogers said. “It exceeded our expectations, and I think the artist did a fabulous job.”

With that first mural now up and available for viewing, organizers are now turning their attention to a second mural that is under construction.

“It’s a mosaic, and it’s 75,000 glass pieces” Rogers said. “A couple of parts of it were at the Toast to the City.”

Rogers wanted this mural to depict the same sense of community pride that is conveyed in the first.

“The theme centers on the history of our industry, the arts, education and everything that makes Lima what it is,” she said. “It’s very representational. It’s got everything from the oil well to piano keys to a tank. It’s all incorporated.”

Another unique feature of this mural involves public participation, with various community members contributing to its assembly.

“We’ll have opportunities for school and corporate groups, service clubs, and families to have workshops to learn about mosaics and help construct this one,” Rogers said. “We’re hoping that by the time that piece goes up at the end of October or early November, people will be able to come by and say they helped put that piece on the mosaic.”

Preliminary work is already underway on a third mural that, like the first one unveiled at Toast to the City, will depict more past and present members of the Lima community.

“We still have four or five that came forward later and are in reserve, so we already have some presold for the 2015 mural,” Rogers said. “I think we’ll be able to do a couple more. We’ll keep doing it until people are no longer interested.”

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