SOUTHINGTON - An Illinois artist has plans to bring Southington's spirit to life in a special mural in the new school complex gymnasium.
Artist Timm Etters of Illinois visited the school recently to see what the project will entail.
Board of Education member Steve Gilanyi and school secretary Shari Gilanyi showed the school, the Chalker Building, the school mascot and other parts of the community to Etters to have him get an idea of what the mural should include.
Etters said there is no official starting date since he has a number of other mural projects in the works.
"This will be my first mural in Ohio. It has been exciting learning the history of this town and the school. This has been really cool," he said.
Shari Gilanyi said the Ohio School Facilities Commission, which worked with Southington on the new school, had its own artist but a seven-member local committee of students, staff and parents decided they wanted someone different.
She said she was on the Internet and found about the work Etters has done, including 300 murals in the past 29 years.
Preliminary meetings are being held on the mural to discuss ideas and incorporate some of the local history, the school and the community, and the mascot. Shari Gilanyi said the committee provides ideas and suggestions. Steve Gilanyi said it will be a surprise with no specifics to be revealed until the mural is completed.
Etters said he will start on the project this year as part of an artist-in-residence program, spending two months locally.
Etters works on murals year round with 90 percent done for schools and 10 percent for homes and corporate and government buildings.
He has done a lot of animals for schools.
"My art teacher in high school was one of my biggest influences as far as teachers. She loved animals and protecting wildlife and got involved with zoos and wildlife foundations. She had us draw pictures of animals and learn about them. I thought after I graduated I would never draw another animal in my life. I am in a career where I research about animals and learn about their habitats," Etters said.
Etters said he has met many people in the community.
"I met so many who graduated from Southington. I went through two sets of camera batteries taking photos at the Chalker Building. What's not to love about what they have here?" he said.