The drive past Magnolia Bowl on Fifth Street in Columbus is about to get a little more colorful.
During its regular meeting at Brandon Central Services Monday, the Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees approved a partnership with Main Street Columbus to use CMSD property for the painting of a mural that would welcome visitors and local residents to Columbus’ downtown shops and sites.
“Our Main Street office has been working since 2014 on murals downtown,” said Barbara Bigelow, Main Street Columbus director. “A mural project is a lot of fun. It draws a lot of interest downtown, which is what we’re all about — bringing people to our downtown area.”
The mural design, approved at Monday’s meeting, will feature the words “live,” “dine,” “play,” “shop” and “learn.” Bigelow said Main Street Columbus submitted an original design to the school board about a month ago and took suggestions for improving the design to gain the board’s approval of the project.
“At the right end, we added the word ‘learn,'” Bigelow said. “That really is not the focus of Main Street, but as we talked about it and discovered that (learning) of course is the focus of our school district, and we’re asking to use school district property. We added that to the rendition at the end. We also added what we consider to be Franklin Academy.”
Penny Bowen, Main Street Columbus design committee chairman, said the organization has received support from several Columbus citizens. However, at CMSD’s board meeting Monday, board member Currie Fisher expressed disapproval for the mural’s design.
“I agree that that wall having a mural behind it would lend to a welcoming atmosphere,” Fisher said. “But I still don’t relate, and I don’t see how most of the community can relate to the graphics behind this. Call it what you will, but I think there are still some subtleties that can be perceived as negative.”
Approval of the project passed in a 4-1 vote from the school board, with Fisher offering the only opposing vote.
After gaining additional approval from the Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, painting of the downtown mural is set to begin.
The mural will cover the west end wall, on Fifth Street, of the Magnolia Bowl behind Franklin Academy
“The Magnolia Wall is l08 feet long and 6 feet tall, and the mural will cover most of that area,” Bigelow said.
Main Street Columbus plans to employ the same artists, Katherine Munson and Katie McDill, who painted the Columbus farmers market mural in 2013 and who have decorated several elementary school cafeterias for CMSD.
“It’s really cool to go into the school and talk to the children about their favorite parts of the mural,” Munson said of a mural finished by the pair roughly two months ago at Sale Elementary.
Munson said the Main Street Columbus mural project was Bowen’s “brainchild,” but Munson helped turn Bowen’s idea into reality.
“It’s a really fun thing to be able to be a part of bringing people’s dreams to life,” Munson said.
Bowen said the idea for the mural originated about a year ago when members of Main Street Columbus attended a conference in Cleveland.
“They did a talk on how design projects can help your downtown,” Bowen said. “We started identifying places we thought would be great places for a mural.”
She said Main Street Columbus decided on the Magnolia Bowl because it’s a key entrance to downtown.
Main Street Columbus will pay for the project, which Bowen estimates will cost about $3,500 for artwork and paint supplies. She said it should take about two months to prime, prep and paint.
Munson and McDill will transfer the rendering to the wall, and volunteers, gathered primarily through word of mouth, will help add color.
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