The mural that is planned to go on the Kiger and Kiger building in Washington C.H. could be up by the end of this year, according to the OSU Extension Office Community Development Educator Godwin Apaliyah.
“When I first moved here, I drove around and would see a lot of beautiful murals in communities, but I didn’t see one in our community,” said Apaliyah. “We have a few, but those are not as spectacular as when you go to Wilmington and see the downtown murals there — it’s beautiful. When you go to Circleville, it’s so nice. When you go to downtown Chillicothe, there’s some nice murals there. We don’t have that in our community, and I was like, ‘if they can do it, then we too can do something.”
There have been two mural designs submitted and considered by a committee working on the project.
That committee (the Implementation Committee), according to Apaliyah, includes himself along with Fayette County Commissioner Dan Dean, Donald Moore of the Fayette County Historical Society, Washington Court House City Council member Kendra Redd-Hernandez, City Economic Development Director Chelsie Baker, Joy Stanforth of the Community Action Commission, Stephanie Dunham of Fayette County Travel and Tourism and Carnegie Public Library Director Sarah Nichols.
The first design done by a local artist, though originally accepted, is no longer going to be used. The reasoning for this, according to Dean, is the artist did not have the time needed to do the project.
Dean said, “It would have been the first time he had ever done it, but I felt comfortable that he could do it — he has a graphic background, but the way I understood it, is he did not quite have the time to fit that into his schedule. They do a lot of other things in town.”
The muralist that is planned to be used is Eric Henn, whose work can be viewed at www.erichennmurals.com/.
“The muralist that we picked is the one that did the large one in Circleville,” explained Dean. “He’s done many in Columbus, he’s done Hillsboro. He did some of the ones in Wilmington. So, although he’s not from Fayette County, is somewhat local. He and his daughter will do it. The mural committee has been looking at this for a little over a year, and the submission he sent we all liked.”
That submission for the second design of the mural has a focus on agriculture and is currently the planned design to be placed onto the Kiger and Kiger building, located at 132 S. Main St. The wall that will be used faces the parking lot which is used for the Fayette County Farmers Market.
“It has been a rewarding process covering various issues and constraints while endeavoring to have a mural created illustrating the Fayette agricultural heritage,” wrote Moore via email.
The project has been ongoing for years and was broken into three phases. Phase one included funding, and phase two was setting up a local committee to help with the project. Now that the muralist and design have been selected, the project is in the final phase — number three.
Baker explained via email, “I began working on this project almost immediately after I began with the city in October of 2016, and it was actually one of the first topics Godwin (Apaliyah) and I covered together after meeting. Godwin was very passionate about finding the best muralist for the project, as well as a mural that best represented the thumbprint of our community. Now that we have the final rendering of our first mural, I am very appreciative of Godwin’s thoroughness and determination throughout the life of this project, as it has helped set the precedent for future mural projects within our community.”
Henn, according to Apaliyah, was difficult to book at first and was contacted for over a year to try to get into his schedule. The project’s start date was going to be around the time of the Scarecrow Festival in August or September but had to be pushed back due to Henn’s schedule. Then it was scheduled for September or October. The current start date should be by Oct. 15, according to Apaliyah. To hold the project, two payments have been made as a down payment totaling $15,000.
The money being used for the project came from grants.
“Godwin (Apaliyah) has spent a lot of time interviewing artists, researching other murals and completing applications to ensure that the majority of the cost of the mural is covered by grant money,” explained Redd-Hernandez. “I think the process has taken longer than any of us thought it would. And I know we have all learned something in the process. In the end, it will be worth the effort.”
Assisting with achieving those grants, according to Apaliyah, was Bambi Baughn, executive director of Community Action Commission.
“Bambi Baughn and Chelsie Baker played great roles to get this project to where we are now,” explained Apaliyah. “Bambi co-authors some of our grant applications and Chelsie, apart from the fact that she is on the implementation committee, took direct responsibility of what we needed the city to do such as working with building owners to allow us to use them. I also want to thank David Kiger for his support for the project and also allowing us to put the painting on his office wall.”
Apaliyah explained that if more funding can be obtained, there is a potential for more murals in the future.
“Godwin (Apaliyah) got grants for most of this project,” said Dean. “If he can get more grants once this one is in — and I know other buildings have been offered to us as some of the owners would like murals on their building, so we have possible canvases, I think we can do more. I’d like to see a lot more.”
Some of those grants and sponsors, according to Apaliyah, included:
-Vectren Foundation for $15,000
-OSU Community Connect for $10,000 (originally $25,000, but $15,000 was used by OSU students for a community engagement process in 2017)
-OSU Extension (Community Development Unit for graduate student) for $3,000
-Ohio Arts Council 2020 grant for $7,033
-Fayette County Travel & Tourism for $5,000
The engagement process in 2017 mentioned above, according to Apaliyah, allowed OSU students to conduct local studies and speak with investors in the community through the OSU grants. They also traveled to do research on other murals. This research was part of phase one of the project. Then, $3,000 of the grant money was used to hire a graduate student to assist with the project.
“It helped to bring students in here to talk to community stakeholders and talk to community groups about what we wanted to do, and to gauge their level of interest and participation for the project. Of all that, the city, the county, the city council, the city manager, the county commissioners — all of them were happy with this grant process and flow,” said Apaliyah.
Those who are interested in supporting or sponsoring murals within the city can contact Apaliyah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-636-2354.
“We are working with and trying to reach out to businesses in our community to support the project,” said Apaliyah. “If you want to do these kinds of beautiful things downtown, encourage businesses to strive and to create jobs, and to bring visitors into our community to see the beautiful downtown, then we will need everyone to support that.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.