(by Whitney Wilson Coy, Westside Editor - March 07, 2009)
Newly planted flowers won’t be the only splash of color the Friends of Westgate Park (FOWP) are adding to the scenery this summer.
Local artist Curtis Goldstein has been commissioned by the group to paint a 70 foot by 20 foot multi-color mural onto the east face of the racquetball courts.
The wall, which faces the recreation center parking lot, has long been a point of contention for lovers of the park. The blank concrete canvass seems to serve as an invitation for graffiti artists.
“It’s the first thing you see when you drive in to the park,” said Sue Laughlin, FOWP vice president. “It’s an eyesore. it just begs for something.”
Plans for the mural took flight in the spring of 2008, when the FOWP were granted a $7,000 Neighborhood Partnership Grant from the Columbus Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio.
Goldstein, a Columbus native, was chosen for the project after FOWP members viewed several of his local works, including the Cliff Dwellers mural on North High Street and the restoration of the Mona Lisamural on Pearl Street.
His Hilltop creation, named “The Heroes of Camp Chase” will depict several scenes honoring the history of the
Westside as a historic Civil War post.
Late last summer, Goldstein presented a rendering of the mural at meetings of the Greater Hilltop Area Commission, the Westgate Neighbors Association and Friends of the Hilltop for community feedback. The sketch received high praise at each meeting.
The mural is expected to look its best for 10-12 years.
FOWP has included a 10-year maintenance agreement with Goldstein. Through this agreement, he will repair any damage done to the mural, either through natural wear or vandalism, for a small cost.
Although the group did feel this agreement was a necessity, laughlin doesn’t feel that vandalism is a threat.
“It’s something about artists. They respect each other’s work,” she said.
Goldstein estimates the total cost for the project to be close to $15,000, according to Laughlin. This cost includes the $12,000 artist’s fee, along with supplies and the rental of an outside lift.
Laughlin calls the lift the largest expense, since it will have to be rented for the duration of the three-month project.
It is Laughlin’s hope that an area business will donate a lift for Goldstein’s use during the project.
Aside from the grant, the group has collected a $1,500 gift from Imagine Schools for the mural, along with $500 in private donations.
Although they continue to apply for additional grants to fund the remainder of the project, this leaves an estimated $6,000 still to be collected.
“I would hate for it to be postponed for another year,” said Laughlin, “but we need the money to start.”
Weather permitting, Goldstein is expected to begin work on the mural in late April or early may, with an unveiling in the fall.
“I hope a lot of people come out and watch while it’s going up. It’s really going to be something to see,” said Laughlin.
To make a donation to the mural project, contact Sue Laughlin at 353-7549 or email@example.com, or Lisa Grazier at 274-4382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.