Event to pick mural

WARREN – After taking submissions from local and regional artists, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership is ready to let the public decide whose artwork will grace the former Mahoningside Power Plant site in Warren.

In association with the Trumbull Art Gallery, which will host the event, TNP is allowing community members to vote on more than 25 submissions. The winning choice will be painted on an 11-foot-tall by 100-foot-wide wall at the now-vacant lot at Summit and Mahoning avenues.

“So much of our work is about trying to remediate blight, trying to reclaim derelict space and return some sense of productivity to it,” TNP director Matt Martin said. “The city has worked very hard to remediate the site. We wanted to add an element of public art to the effort.”

During the kickoff Friday afternoon, and through the end of the month at TAG, people will be able to vote on the submissions, with a winning selection to be made Aug. 31. Martin said he hopes the mural installation will be completed this fall.

The theme of the mural was open, but artists were encouraged to explore notions of civic and community pride. Martin said that many of the submissions came from local artists, but the opportunity for such a large canvas did attract out-of-town creators as well.

“I’d say that we received submissions from around a 100-mile radius,” Martin said. “The response (from the art community) was about what we expected, with probably around 28 submissions altogether.”

Martin said that those who are unable to attend Friday’s event will still be able to vote, with TNP working to establish an online voting system.

In order to prevent vote stuffing, however, Martin said that online voters will be limited to one vote, and must include a brief explanation as to why they cast their vote.

“We want this (process) to be all about the art itself,” Martin said. “At the end of the way, we want to ensure that the winning mural can be well-executed and will be something that the public is going to enjoy.”

TNP received a $2,735 grant from the Ohio Arts Council to begin the mural process, but Martin said another generous donation recently helped push the project into the black for the organization.

The Warren G. Harding Class of 1984 recently held its 30th class reunion and the group raised more than $1,400 for the nonprofit organization. John Macy and Jim Brutz, both members of the TNP Board of Directors, were part of the class and Martin said they helped explain the group’s importance to the community.

“We were going to go forward with (the mural) regardless, but the class of 1984’s donation really helped cover all the expenses,” Martin said. “We did not solicit money from them, but they wanted to donated money (to TNP) and we chose to use those funds for this project.

“(The class of 1984) is made up of folks who live all around the country now, but went to Harding and grew up here and they wanted to support the community.”