BV Restoration Committee begins fundraising for new mural
By Kelby Newcomb
The Berryville Restoration Committee is bringing Bobcat pride to the Public Square.
Committee member Gerald “Kent” Crow said the organization has a new mural in the works.
“The restoration committee took about a year off after our last mural,” he said. “About a month ago, we decided that enough time had passed and we had all recovered enough from our previous fundraising efforts that we would start again if we could come up with a project that we thought the community would be excited about.”
He said committee member Mary Nell Billings suggested an idea for a new mural, and the group met to discuss it.
“Everybody in the committee was willing to support that idea,” Crow said. “We gave that concept to James Abbott and Randall Rust, our two artists. They worked up the idea, the poster if you will, for the new mural. We all liked it and agreed to do it.”
The new mural features a family of bobcats in front of the planet Earth. The top of the mural reads “Historic Berryville,” and the bottom reads “Out Of This World.” Bobcats were selected, Crow said, because they are the mascot of the Berryville School District.
He said Abbott and Rust have begun purchasing the aluminum panels that the mural will be painted on.
“Because of the detail and complexity in this, trying to accomplish that on a brick building would have been extremely difficult,” Crow said. “The building that we are going to be able to use is next to Garner’s. It’s part of the Wilson’s appliance building.”
Abbott and Rust will paint the image on the panels, he said, and then mount them on the building.
“We’ve gotten to a point where they now have the panels and are starting to prepare them to do that,” Crow said.
Typically, he said, each mural project costs about $8,000.
“There’s no profit in it. No one on the committee is paid anything,” he said. “All the money goes to materials and the two artists who do the work. They give us a really good rate, far below what you would normally pay.”
Crow continued, “We’re excited about it. I don’t have a timeline for it. Randall and James are working at this point on layouts. We’ll have a meeting again at the end of this month or the first of next month and get an update on it.”
The interesting thing about the murals, he said, is that each one develops a following with a different group of people.
“The Trailways bus mural across the street from the post office resonated with a lot of the older citizens,” he said, “because they rode on that bus. It was nostalgic. The Coca-Cola and RCA signs seem to engender a following with some of the younger kids.”
Crow continued, “I don’t know what the reaction will be to this one. The Berryville High School bobcat mascot will definitely resonate with a lot of the kids. The concept of the Earth and space may appeal to those who feel environmentally drawn to certain topics. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.”
He said it is always interesting for the committee members to see what the reaction is to the projects they undertake.
“There is so much good community support. That’s what drives us,” Crow said. “There’s always some naysayers or those who feel in a negative way about a particular subject matter or mural we’ve selected to do. We understand that everyone has an opinion, and certain things resonate with some people and not with others.”
He said the committee tries to think about what the community would enjoy and what would enhance the ambiance of the community.
“It is so much fun for me working up here on the Square to see so many people take family photos and wedding photos in front of the murals,” he said. “There is so much importance associated with art and public art in particular. If we can do something to bring that to Berryville, we want to continue to try to do it.”
Crow said he believes the murals possibly create a positive impression of the community for people who are visiting.
“Some people have said it doesn’t do anything for us economically,” he said, “but I think if someone sees this type of artwork and this type of community spirit they’ll be attracted to Berryville. Maybe they’ll stop and spend money here or maybe even more here. You never know.”
He said promoting tourism is sort of a secondary goal of the mural projects.
“We try to encourage people to stop and see what’s happening in Berryville,” Crow said. “We want them to spend a little time and perhaps go to the museums and do a walking tour of the Square.”