Take 2: Back to the drawing board with Piedmont's mural

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
The mural to be placed on the wall of the Piedmont Library has been put on hold as the mayor and council rejected the eight proposals presented on Wednesday by Highland Arts Unlimited.

PIEDMONT - It’s back to the drawing board for the Piedmont mural.

Jill Baldinger of the Highland Arts Unlimited Community Arts Project presented the Piedmont mayor and council with eight proposals Wednesday for the mural to be placed on the back wall of the town library as part of the HAU program.

The mural will be visible from the railroad and by people coming down Kennyhouse Hill as they enter town by Hampshire Street (state Route 46).

“Some of the designs are small, some are big; some cover the entire space,” Baldinger said as she handed out copies of the proposals.

What the proposals weren’t, however, was a depiction of what the mayor and council had in mind.

Seven of the eight proposals featured prominent people with ties to Piedmont - Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Henry Gassaway Davis, Don Redman, Steve Whiteman, Aubrey Stewart and Leslie Thrasher.

Council member Greg Harvey told Baldinger, however, that they were looking more for places rather then people to be featured in the mural.

“I think what a lot of people were looking for was landmarks,” he said.

“We discussed on several occasions maybe a steam train coming down … a small part of the B&O station with maybe a diesel train with coal or pulpwood,” Terry LaRue said. “This area was founded basically because of the coming of the railroad.”

LaRue also suggested the Luke paper mill be placed in the background.

“We didn’t want to narrow it down to people (in the mural) because we were afraid that we were going to miss someone,” he continued. “The people mentioned were notable, but there were other people who may not be as famous nationally or internationally, but they have actually contributed more.

“I think we can get the same message across without using people,” LaRue said.

Mayor Paula Boggs said they had held a meeting to discuss ideas for the mural, and the landmarks concept was what the people had favored.

“I guess I should have told you,” she told Baldinger.

Harvey suggested a more symbolic approach to the artwork.

“If someone sees a saxophone … they’re going to relate that to Don Redman,” he said, to which a resident in the audience added, “Or Lester Clifford.”

“If they see a drum set,” Harvey continued, “they’ll relate it to Steve Whiteman … I think we can get the message across without someone saying, ‘Why didn’t you put my grandfather in?’ Or ‘What about my second cousin?” he said.

“We can re-do the call for the artists,” Baldinger told the officials, adding, however, that re-issuing a request for proposals would cause the project to be delayed.

“It’s not going to happen this year,” she said, explaining that it takes at least two months for the artists to design and create their proposals.

Baldinger asked the officials to give her a list of “maybe 20 or 30 things” they’d like to see on the mural, and then “it will be up to the artist to choose.”

Liz Beavers is a veteran writer and managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune. You can check out her bio and more of her work at https://www.newstribune.info/staff/6477370002/liz-beavers/. To reach out to her with a story idea, email lbeavers@newstribune.info.