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Students brighten floodwall with mural

Project is latest funded through grants secured by Third and Center

A group could be found hard at work in last Wednesday’s heat and sun at the Ironton floodwall, taking a drab environment and bringing life to it.

Art students from Ironton and St. Joseph high schools created a multi-panel mural in the space along the bike and walking trail on the riverfront, as part of the latest of a series of projects organized by a local nonprofit.

Kimberly Johnson, the art teacher from Saint Joseph, said the artwork was funded through a grant secured by the group Third and Center.

Founded by Amanda Cleary and Abby Keuhne, the owners of the former Vault Market downtown, the group has headed efforts to bring things such as artistic bike racks and crosswalk artwork to the city.

“It was a grant from the Ohio Arts Council,” Cleary said of the funds, which she said would also go toward additional bike racks, one of which, sporting the words “Shop Local,” can now be seen at the Ironton splash park. The bike racks were designed and built by welding students from Collins Career Technical Center.

“We’re covering up more degrading things,” Caitlin Knore, art teacher for Ironton High School, said of graffiti that was previously in the spot. “People will walk by and get color in their life.”

The mural features artwork, done in acrylic exterior house paint, in each panel designed by the students, along with a larger piece, which includes the quote, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” by the late actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn.

“It’s a beautiful way to bring some color to Ironton,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that Cleary prepped the location and put down primer before they arrived and the students were ready to paint on Wednesday morning.

The mural was completed and ready for the public by Friday.

Cleary said Third and Center wanted to add beauty to outdoor spaces and, in addition to the new mural, they hoped to eventually touch up the “Welcome to Ironton” mural on the floodwall.

She said Third and Center will also be hosting a 5K race on Sept. 18, as a fundraiser for the group’s projects.

“It will be an evening run that utilizes the bike path,” she said.

Cleary said registration will be open soon and those who are interested in taking part can email osuchraceplanner@aol.com or call 606-369-4403.