New mural rises in downtown Springfield

Braylon Bettinger, age 4, his grandmother Jessica Bettinger and Amber Vanderpool were part of a group of volunteers who gathered to paint a new mural on the back of the State Theater in downtown Springfield on Thursday morning. The mural sight was a filming location for an ABC Disney pilot being shot here, and Disney worked with the Springfield Public Arts Committee to create the mural here.

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Braylon Bettinger, age 4, his grandmother Jessica Bettinger and Amber Vanderpool were part of a group of volunteers who gathered to paint a new mural on the back of the State Theater in downtown Springfield on Thursday morning. The mural sight was a filming location for an ABC Disney pilot being shot here, and Disney worked with the Springfield Public Arts Committee to create the mural here.

The largest monarch butterfly imaginable has risen in downtown Springfield over the past few days. Its new home is on the outdoor back wall of the State Theater.

About 60 volunteers and several local artists took paint brushes as high as 45 feet to paint the mural, conceived and titled “Transformation” by Columbus artist Jeremy Jarvis, depicting a monarch and a pair of hands. The mural is part of a Springfield Public Arts Committee (SPAC) effort with ABC Disney, which used the mural as one of the shooting locations for a pilot filming around the city this week.

As Springfield has added several murals throughout downtown in recent years, “Transformation” is another welcome addition, and it will be followed by others, said Marta Wojcik of the SPAC.

“There’s such value in doing these,” she said. “Things downtown become more colorful and vibrant and brings great energy.”

Wojcik said the State was chosen because it’s highly visible, with a revitalization project going on there and there’s a lot of business development in that area of town. The Regent Theater a few streets over also has a large mural painted on its rear wall.

The project came together on short notice, about a month-and-a-half. Wojcik said Disney paid for the design concept and the SPAC worked with Kim Fish, who reached out to the group to get it going and helped with fundraising to get the wall prepped, using local craftsmen including Elijah Glaser of Glaser Masonry and Brett Boblitt of QC Painting.

The SPAC’s costs for the restoration, artist fees, supplies and lift rental amounted to around $20,000.

Prior to painting, the mural resembled a giant paint-by-number project, indicating the various colors to be used. Supervised by local artists Kelley Booze, Pete Hrinko and Nathan Conner, eager volunteers scaled ladders and even went up several feet on lifts to paint the past few days.

Deb Southward of Springfield saw the call for volunteers on Facebook, and although she hasn’t done any art since high school, grabbed a brush and went to work.

“I wanted to do something that would be an improvement in the community,” she said. “You don’t have to be an artist. I like that it’s something you can drive by and see.”

The youngest volunteer was 4-year-old Braylon Bettinger, who came down with grandmother Jessica Bettinger. She thought it was a good way to show Braylon civic responsibility and something they can point out as having contributed to.

“When you’re driving through it draws interest and makes you want to go farther into the city,” Jessica Bettinger said.

Royal Benton and Beau Brockett just opened Monarch Photography and were delighted to see their mascot that large, a nice surprise they weren’t expecting when they volunteered. They wanted to help the city’s growth and add vibrance to downtown.

Jarvis, whose work has been transferred to murals in the Columbus area and Washington State, said “Transformation” is a tribute to the changes people go through in their lives, sometimes easy and sometimes difficult.

“It’s an image that inspires and shows why we should care and use compassion and understanding for those going through it,” he said. “There are so many things to love about this project.”

Jarvis was unable to be in Springfield due to health precautions, but looks forward to visiting it in the future.

Wojcik said another mural is in the works in August using a prominent artist’s concept to go on the side of the WesBanco building, and other concepts are in the planning stages.

“We want to keep that momentum going downtown,” said Wojcik.