There is something warm and inviting about a community that shows pride for public art by displaying building-sized hand-painted murals. It just kind of reaches out and says, “Welcome!”
I’m proud of the fact that Wilmington can boast of eight such murals, all located in the historic downtown. The oldest building murals date back to circa 1900 and 1907. It is a combination of two-different designs – Selz Shoes and Coca-Cola. The artist is unknown, but if you look closely the ageless advertisements can be seen as you approach the downtown going south on S.R. 68.
Across the street, Todd and Barbara Brausch painted marble pillars in full-color on the side of the building at 94 South Street in 1999. It certainly makes a statement on this three-story building.
In the early 2000s, artist Jason Morgan created Lady of the Balcony, a life-like vibrant mural that draws you in with thoughts of the possible story that could have been behind the painting. Facing the Wilmington City Municipal Building’s parking lot, it is very beautiful.
The Main Street Market mural was also created by artist Jason Morgan, completed in 2007. On the west-facing wall of 63 W. Main Street, the mural covers 1,600 sq. ft. and shows an indoor farmers’ market and hot air balloon launch. Clinton County history inspired the design.
Three years later in 2010, Jason Morgan was at it again when he painted the Community Garden mural. Located on the east-facing wall of 55 E. Locust Street, the full-color mural displays a community garden and celebrates the area’s love of gardening and the lives of local residents.
One of the more recent examples of building art to grace the downtown was named the Heritage Harvesters mural. This 63’ x 50’ sepia color mural pays tribute to the long-standing, rich heritage of farming and agriculture in the community. The images portray the founding farmers connected to the 16 registered Ohio Century Farms located in Clinton County and was painted by Jason Morgan. It is located on the historic Fifth Bosworth Building on the corner of Main and South Streets.
Of course, we mustn’t leave out the new “ad/building mural” which now is found on the side of the Samuel Walker Building, which gives passersby an inkling to what can be found in the newly renovated building, namely jewelry and a retail store.
The newest addition to Wilmington’s murals is found at the New Life Clinic thanks to participants of the 2015 Rock-a-thon who raised the funds needed to add a mural to the south wall of its new downtown location at 100 S. South St., Wilmington. Painted by Duane Richard, it appropriately shows the silhouette of a child swinging.
Wilmington isn’t the only location in Clinton County with murals. Port William jumped on the mural bandwagon a few years back and located on the old feed mill along Anderson’s Fork is a mural depicting the history of the area. Featured are Lil’ Gib and Fannie May, his horse. Gilbert VanZandt (Lil’ Gib) of Port William was 10 years old when he went to war as a drummer with his father during the Civil War. Little Gib eventually ended up with General Sherman on his march to the sea at the end of the Civil War.
Blanchester is another Clinton County village with a mural that was dedicated on June 11, 2006. Artist Ron Keith immortalized the centennial of the traction line located in Blanchester. The mural depicts the buildings and businesses that were present in Blanchester at the time of the traction line. The building art is located at 203 S. Broadway, Blanchester.
A mural of a different nature is located in eastern Clinton County – Sabina, in fact. It was the creative work of Duane Richard, who was moved by the death of a young Marine in Iraq who attended high school in Sabina. Richard painted a 30-foot-wide mural on the side of a barn located on his parents’ farm of 22 year-old Lance Corporal Brett Wightman.
Wightman was one of 14 Marines who died when their vehicle was hit by an explosive during combat operations south of Haditha, Iraq. Depicted in dress uniform and hat, the painted image was taken from a photo provided by the Marine’s father. The artist also lined the barn with 13 U.W. flags, one for each of the other Marines killed in the attack.
You’ll be inspired by the murals located in Clinton County so why not take a ride in your car and seek them out. It’s an entertaining and relaxing way to spend a few hours.