(Posted Oct. 14, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
It’s been a few years in the making, but the vision of a handful of West Jefferson residents is coming to life on the sides of two buildings in the downtown area.
On Oct. 8, Raine Clotfelter, a muralist from Missouri, put the finishing touches on a mural honoring the village of West Jefferson. The painting can be seen on the west side of the West Jefferson Dental building located at 41 E. Main St.
“The original concept was ‘Past, Present, Future,’ and I think we’ve captured that,” said Howard Wade, chairman of the West Jefferson Mural Committee, a group of five citizens that also includes Patty Blake, Brenda Blanton, Mike Conway and Robert Pearce.
Inspired by public murals they saw in other towns during their travels, Wade and his wife, Linda, started brainstorming in 2018 about how to bring murals to West Jefferson. Soon after, the committee was formed. The group went to work on the concept and fundraising, selling military honor banners and garden flags. Not long ago, they got the financial support they needed to finally push the project into action.
Russ Miller, a developer who owns the Sky Ranch property just east of West Jefferson, worked with his suppliers to secure the funding needed to hire Clotfelter to paint two murals for the committee. As for how an artist from Missouri ended up with commissions in West Jefferson, Ohio, Miller’s sister is the person who got that ball rolling. She had seen Clotfelter’s handiwork on a silo in Monett, Ill., and suggested Miller do the same with the silo on his farm. He did, and now that silo, visible along U.S. Route 40, sports a wrap-around painting of an eagle and an American flag.
After a break following the silo project, Clotfelter, who promotes himself as “America’s Muralist,” returned to West Jefferson to start work on the building murals on Sept. 24. The mural at 41 E. Main St. features depictions of the covered bridge over Taylor Blair Road, the West Jefferson Community Association’s Ox Roast logo, the Historic National Road emblem in honor of U.S. Route 40, the Jefferson Local Schools’ roughrider logo, an historic stone mile marker, and village hall as it looked decades ago.
After finishing the first mural, Clotfelter immediately began work on the second mural which is going up on the east side of the building located at 97 E. Main St. The building is owned by Dr. Corey Amann and occupied by Subway and Madison Health.
The second mural will sport a patriotic theme. Clotfelter has invited some West Jefferson High School students to learn about mural artistry and help paint part of the mural. This collaboration is scheduled to take place early next week, weather permitting.
Work on the second mural should wrap up by the end of the month. The mural committee plans to hold a dedication ceremony at which donors and supporters will be recognized. Details will be announced soon.
Wade said he is excited to see the project come together.
“It’s been near and dear to my heart. Now, it’s come to fruition. We have people coming over and loving it,” he said.
The committee welcomes additional donations for the installation of lighting and recognition plaques at both murals. Checks can be made out to West Jefferson Mural Committee and mailed to P.O. Box 175, West Jefferson, OH 43162. The committee is a non-profit organization and member of the Madison County Community Improvement Corporation.