Highway homage: Newest restoration effort is Highway 62 mural

Friday, June 24, 2016
Randall Rust, left, and James Abbott work on the latest mural project in Berryville. The faces of the people in the truck will be actual Berryville residents who will be chosen in a raffle. (Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News)

The latest mural by the Berryville Restoration Fund Inc. is cruising along. The Highway 62 mural will highlight the highway's influence on the development of the city.

Mary Nell Billings, who helps execute the murals, said this mural is trying to sell not just Berryville but also Highway 62 as part of the city.

"I think it was probably back in 1971 that the decision was made to have the highway come through the square. It kind of tore the town up," she said. "But it also brought some new opportunities to the city. We want to celebrate that history with this mural."

The mural features nostalgic images from the past, Billings said, such as the old water tower, an old Ice Cream Social banner and a family heading out onto Highway 62 in a red pickup. The image will also feature a map of the United States, she said, because one of Highway 62's unique qualities is that it is the only highway that connects Canada and Mexico.

The restoration project is selling chances for people to be featured in the mural, Billings said. The three individuals in the pickup -- a man, woman and child -- will have the faces of Berryville residents when the project is finished, she said. Billings said the raffle is $50 per person or $100 per couple. The adults can be a couple, parents, grandparents or any individual a citizen chooses, she said. The child can be someone's child or a picture of someone as a child, Billings said.

"The only thing we ask is that if you nominate an older person you just need to bring a picture of them when they were younger," she said.

Donations for the chance to nominate someone for the mural can be dropped off at Marlowe's on the square or at Kent Crow's office, Billings said.

She said this is the seventh full color mural the restoration project has added to the square. The others include two Coke signs, the Buccaneer sign, the RCA dog with the gramophone and the Trailways bus sign, Billings said.

She said the project would not be possible without the two artists who work on the murals, James Abbott and Randy Rust.

"It's so much more work than people realize," Billings said. "These guys have to draw the plan, do the patterns and research the look."

She continued, "I'm so appreciative. They just work so hard. That's the wonderful thing about having somebody from your town work on this project. They're enthusiastic about making it better."

Rust said each mural takes about six weeks to complete. Abbott explained that the pair start with a small concept drawing and then make a transparency of the drawing to put on an overhead projector. He said they then project it on the wall at his shop and make it full-size on paper, which is called a pounce pattern.

"These we do by hand because of the size," Abbott said. "Then we take four-foot strips of paper and use them to transfer the image onto the actual wall. We started under the windows for this one and came down vertically with six runs of paper."

Rust said the project is a way to promote Berryville and show that the good old days are here right now.

"It's priceless to be able to come to a town square and have small stores and cafes to go to," he said. "These murals help reflect that idea."

Abbott said he went to school in the 1970s for commercial art and advertising. He had a small sign shop in Berryville for 30 years, he said, before closing it down.

"Now that I'm getting back on my feet a little bit it's great to be doing something like this project," Abbott said.

Rust said he went to both art school and trade school at different points in his life. He said he is happy to be doing art again, even though working on the murals takes a lot of effort.

"It's hard work, but it's been awesome working on these with James. It's been a lot of fun," Rust said.

Abbott said the mural project is funded completely by local residents.

"They must be loving it, or they wouldn't have us keep doing it," he said.

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