From the Editor's Desk: A colorful addition to the downtown

Liz Beavers
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Liz Beavers

After numerous months of work, the scaffolding is coming down and the latest mural celebrating Keyser is finally finished.

Located on the side of the Solar Mountain Records building on Armstrong Street, this latest effort of the Highland Arts Public Arts Committee features a train rolling into the foreground, chugging past what I assume is the old railroad machine shop. Watching the train go by is a young boy and his dog.

The mural serves as a welcome to those coming into Keyser by way of Memorial Bridge, just as the first murals to be created by the HAU program and affixed to the Brooks Park amphitheater welcome those coming into Keyser from the south.

In between those two projects, HAU commissioned a young artist to paint the mural on the side of the former J&S Pawn Shop on the corner of North Main and Center streets — or for those of you who remember a bit further back, the former Village Card Shop.

That mural depicts some of the features — past and present — that downtown Keyser has to offer and has certainly brightened up an otherwise bland wall.

The fourth project under the direction of the HAU Public Arts Committee is the shelf of law books which adorns the entrance steps to the Law Building across from the courthouse.

All of these projects were designed and painted by local artists who submitted their designs to the HAU committee and were subsequently chosen for the job.

They are colorful and tastefully done additions to the city and I personally hope HAU will target some additional spots in the city for similar projects.

For now, however, they have turned their attention to our neighbors in Piedmont, and have been talking with the city officials there about placing a mural on the back wall of the library. Those coming into Piedmont by way of Route 46, or Hampshire Street, will be greeted by a colorful surprise as they start down Kennyhouse Hill toward the center of town.

In this case HAU will once again solicit designs from area artists, but first they are looking for ideas of good things to feature in the chosen design.

The city council members brainstormed a bit in their meeting last week, and came up with several really good ideas that should be included in some form — Aubrey Stewart, Don Redman, Steve Whiteman, the Piedmont Lion, the town swimming pool, and again, the railroad.

Personally, my first thought was that no Piedmont mural would be complete without the Lion, representing the powerhouse that Piedmont was on the basketball court.

In addition to those ideas the council had — and they were all good ones — how about Skip Gates? Or Saturday Evening Post artist Leslie Thrasher? Or a church, representing the deep religious background in the town? The list could go on.

And in fact, that is what the city officials want — a list. They are inviting anyone with any ideas that they feel should be included in the mural to drop them off at City Hall or email them to office@cityofpiedmont.org.

As an aside, it just occurred to me that I just named five famous people — six if you count the Lion! — that either were born or lived in the little town of Piedmont. And I didn’t even mention Henry Gassaway Davis!

How many towns the size of Piedmont (or bigger for that matter) can claim six famous people?

I am really glad HAU has chosen Piedmont for their next mural. Piedmont has a rich history to pull from and I think a colorful mural celebrating that history will be a great addition to the downtown area.

And maybe it’s too much to ask, or too expensive a request, but I hope HAU will keep its momentum going and take its mural project to other towns in the county. There are a lot of stories that can be told and celebrated with a little paint and some creativity!

Liz Beavers is managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune and can be reached at lbeavers@newstribune.info.