The eastern wall of Victory Ministries’ Center of Hope has been converted into a kind of giant, paint-by-number canvas.
Over the next few weeks, the blank space on East Main Street in Whitehall will be covered by a mural of a vibrant, 100-foot-long garden.
“The mural is called ‘Hope Blooms,’ ” said Eliza Ho, lead artist, “because this place is called the Center of Hope. We wanted to build on that idea, and what’s a natural symbol of hope? The seed.
“You have to nurture it and let it grow.”
Ho and two other professional artists, JT Thompson and Maureen Clark, spent every night last week tracing the outline of vegetables, flowers and pollinators onto the wall, adding a number to each section so it would be easy for area residents to apply the 33 different shades of paint.
Early Saturday morning, more than 50 volunteers signed up to wield a brush and begin filling in the mural. There will be a second community painting day on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s a process that enriches the purpose of the mural,” Ho said. “People enjoy doing stuff together and that lays the foundation — the seeds — of a good community.”
Lloyd and Janice Craycroft, director and assistant director of Victory Ministries, said they hope the art will help make the neighborhood a better place.
“Our goal is that this mural uplifts people driving or walking down Main Street,” Janice said. “ This is a community where life is tough. There is not a lot of beauty. There’s abuse, addiction and hardship. But our message here is hope.”
Victory Ministries provides emergency services to low-income families in the neighborhood, and the organization will start hosting cooking classes in a few weeks. Participants will harvest vegetables from an urban garden below the mural and learn how to prepare them.
The couple got the idea for a mural after a visit to Cincinnati where they saw Jonathan Queen’s 48-foot by 90-foot “Fresh Harvest” mural on Kroger’s corporate headquarters.
“The vegetables were almost leaping off the walls,” Lloyd said. “We were inspired. Why couldn’t we use this wall to do something of our own?”
As the sun moved higher into the sky on Saturday, the painted crops began to grow and take shape.
Blacks and golds shaped a honeybee the size of a basset hound and vibrant greens sprouted into beanstalks fit for a giant. A blob of royal purple eventually gave way to an 8-foot eggplant.
One painter yelled to her grandfather, “Oh, look, there’s a spider on the wall!”
But just a small one.
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