All aboard! New mural project chugging along

Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Artists James Abbott (left) and Randy Rust present the concept drawing for the Berryville Community Restoration Project’s latest mural, which is a tribute to Depression-era Berryville. They have set up scaffolding to paint the new mural section by section.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

The Berryville Community Restoration Project has announced a new mural, and the artists are already picking up steam on the latest piece.

Artists Randy Rust and James Abbott began working on the project last week. The new mural will be on a south-facing wall on the Berryville Public Square and will be the largest mural the two have painted so far, Abbott said.

“This mural is kind of a reimagining of Thomas Hart Benton’s works,” he said. “They wanted to pay tribute to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and Benton was a WPA muralist and artist.”

“The WPA ran in the 1930s and built all sorts of things during the Great Depression,” Rust said. “In Berryville, I think the old gymnasium was built by the WPA.”

Abbott said the new mural will be a tribute to that era and features scenes of life from that time period.

“The main feature will be the train,” Rust said. “Behind it, we have a tornado in reference to the tornado that hit Berryville. We’ve also got the cows coming home in the distance.”

He said the two have been working on the punch pattern, which is a small concept drawing transferred full-size onto paper by using an overheard projector and a transparency of the original drawing.

Abbott said the train will be 16 feet wide.

“We’re going to fill the entire 58-foot space,” he said. “It will be the biggest mural we’ve done. We have to complete one section, move the scaffolding, complete the next section, move the scaffolding and so on. It will be a lot of moving. We’ve never done one this way.”

After they finish power-washing the old paint off the building, he said the next step will be painting the background and blending the colors with paint rollers.

“Then we start making measurements,” Rust said. “We have the pounce pattern for the first two sections. We have a scale drawing, so we’ll measure from one point to another and then put that pattern up.”

In the mural, the train will be running across a tabletop next to an open book, he said.

“We will revamp the book a little bit from the concept to the mural,” Abbott said. “There will be a binder, and it will look more like a book. These were just the rough drawings to get started with.”

He said they will begin painting the mural this week if the weather holds up.

Mary Nell Billings, who helps execute the murals, posted on the Berryville Community Restoration Project’s Facebook page last Monday, May 29, that the organization needs to raise another $2,000 to $3,000 to fund the newest mural. While they had hoped to have funding completed before Rust and Abbott began working, she said the artists wanted to get started on it now since the weather is starting to warm up.

“We’re so proud of Berryville and friends for hunting together and funding the mural project,” Billings said in the post. “They have attracted so much attention to our square. Randy and James have given so much of their time and effort. That is the beauty of having local artists to work with, and we couldn’t have asked for better.”

To donate to the Berryville Community Restoration Project, Billings said people can donate their change in front of Kent Crow’s office or make a donation directly to the First National Bank on the Square.

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