MEADVILLE, Pa. — Aug. 18, 2008 — The creative energy of Meadville's community spirit will be nearly impossible to miss in downtown Meadville after next week.
Two summers ago Allegheny College studio art major Berry Breene first envisioned a mural to celebrate the history of Mill Run and Meadville. The project, undertaken in part to fulfill the requirement of her senior project, involved the design and eventual painting of a 12’ x 73’ mural, which is being installed this week on the Hovis Annex Building in downtown Meadville.
The mural, implemented through Allegheny's Arts & Environment Initiative, is an outcome of Meadville, PA: Not Your Run of the Mill Community, an economic development effort that has directly involved numerous business partners and community members at every step of the process, from visioning, planning, painting and, now, the mural's final installation.
“At the core of what we're working to accomplish through the Market Alley Mural project, and through the other Mill Run initiatives, is a conviction that innovation and creativity are indispensible components of successful, environmentally sustainable economic development,” said Amara Geffen, art professor and director of Allegheny's Center for Economic and Environmental Development (CEED).
“In fact, this project embodies what Richard Florida, a national expert in commercial innovation and regional development, means when he says, �Creativity has come to be the most highly prized commodity in our economy.' What Berry has done, both with her original design and in the way she has engaged local residents to bring the project through to its completion, exemplifies creativity and honors the nature of our community.”
Breene, who worked as an intern with CEED, implemented the project as a community “painting-bee” that brought inter-generational groups together to help with the enormous task. Most recently Breene has worked closely with Peter Maruska, local artist and retired VoTech commercial arts instructor. Over the past year the various groups involved painted the 4’ x 8’ panels in the Meadville Area Industrial Complex on Pine Street, courtesy of the Redevelopment Authority, but because of the scale involved, it was impossible to fully assemble all 27 panels during the painting process. As a result, next week will be the first time Breene and the others involved will have seen the mural in its entirety.
Beginning today, Associated Contractors, another community partner in the project, will prepare the Hovis Annex building site—which is on the east side of the corner of Park Avenue and Chestnut Street—for the installation. Depending on weather conditions, the project is expected to take one to two weeks to complete. During the installation, sidewalk access will be limited.
Resources for the Market Alley mural were provided by a gift from the Valera Richards family in memory of the late Gwendolyn Barboni, a local artist and past director of the Meadville Council on the Arts. Funds were also provided by the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Core Communities Program. Numerous community partners have helped support the project including the Grassinger family, owners of Hovis Interiors, who provided permission to locate the mural at the site; ACE Lumber, which is assisting with materials costs; and area residents John Koehler and Jed Miller, both of whom provided technical consultation.
CEED engages Allegheny College students, faculty and the community in creating innovative approaches to environmental stewardship, environmental education and regional revitalization. For additional information about CEED or Meadville, PA: Not Your Run of the Mill Community, contact Amara Geffen at firstname.lastname@example.org.