(Posted Aug. 16, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick Madison Editor
Who wants to be bored in a board conference room? No one!
Jonathan Mullins-Kimbler has succeeded in bringing light and life–not to mention, an outright sense of community–to an 8×25-foot wall in the conference room at the Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) office.
“Putting the color up there. Making it bright. That was my favorite part. I just need to make things lively,” said Jonathan, 22, an artist from London.
Earlier this year, MCBDD Superintendent Susan Thompson commissioned Jonathan to paint the mural that now graces the conference room wall. She kept her requirements for its look and content simple.
“I wanted some color, and I wanted something complimenting Madison County,” she said.
Jonathan took those minimal guidelines and ran with them. He decided to divide the mural into four parts, one for each of the county’s main towns–London, West Jefferson, Mount Sterling and Plain City. He then went about learning what makes each town tick.
“I looked online, visited to take pictures, did research. Then, I had to simplify it and break it down to their staples–what each city is most proud of,” he said. His father connected him with people from around the county to further his research.
For the London quadrant, Jonathan incorporated images of a strawberry for the Strawberry Festival, the Choctaw Lake entrance sign, a car for the annual Cobra Car Show, and the county courthouse.
The West Jefferson quadrant features an image of town hall, a slice of pizza representing the village’s various pizza restaurants, the Garrette Park sign, and a bison in honor of the herd at Battelle-Darby Creek Metro Park.
The Mount Sterling quadrant includes an image of town hall, the Deer Creek State Park entrance sign, an ice cream cone representing the Dairy Freeze, and a horse representing the area’s horse farms.
For the Plain City quadrant, Jonathan went with a pie to represent Der Dutchman restaurant, the clock tower from the center of town, a buggy for the Mennonite population, and farm equipment for the annual Miami Valley Steam Threshers show.
Subtle nods to each town come in the form of school colors used as backdrops for the iconic images. An outline of Madison County and the letters MCBDD sit in the center of the mural.
“Even though it was months in the planning, it took less than a month to put it up,” Jonathan said of painting the mural. He projected his drawings onto the wall, making it much easier to complete the project.
“I think he did an amazing job. He took an idea and ran with it. I am so pleased with it,” said Thompson, who invited the mayors from each of the towns to pose for pictures with Jonathan and their respective portions of the mural.
Jonathan, who has autism, appreciates the work MCBDD does. He has received help with work and life skills through MCBDD. In turn, the agency appreciates Jonathan’s artistic skills. The board room mural isn’t his first commission for the organization. He also painted the mural in MCBDD’s main lobby a few years ago.
“We reached out to Jonathan because he does such a good job,” Thompson said.
Jonathan’s artistic bent started at a young age.
“I’ve drawn all my life but slowly have gotten more and more professional,” he said, noting that he graduated from Tolles Career & Technical Center in 2019 in graphic design. His home school was Madison-Plains.
Jonathan is active in the London Visual Arts Guild, and his work has appeared in exhibitions at the London Arts Center. He also has had work on display in Art & Soul, an annual exhibit in Dayton that showcases the artwork of people with disabilities. This year, his entry was named Curator’s Choice.