Last year a group from Princeton came to Grafton to share how providing spaces for artistic expression in their once abandoned downtown area had rejuvenated their community.
The Create Your State tour boogied into town and made a strong, lasting impression on the folks that attended their beautifully orchestrated performance.
The message of Create Your State was that places like Grafton could use art to beautify our downtown area, bringing it new life and vibrancy.
In the months that followed, I begun discussing with my fellow citizens the vast possibilities of what public art projects could do for Grafton. One of those citizens – local business owner and entrepreneur, Jr. Toothman of Toothman Ford – was immediately intrigued by the idea, and decided he would sponsor a new mural in town.
Jr. already had an artist in mind – Marty Mummert of Marty Mummert Studio in Gettysburg, Penn., who specializes in hand-painted vintage signs. His work has been featured in television shows such as Mike and Molly and the Food Network’s, Unwrapped.
Grafton is the Memorial Day City, and we wanted to capture that in our project. Jr. and I had decided to use a reenactment photo that was taken in Grafton, with the help of his son, Jarrett Toothman, of the sailor and nurse “V-J Day Kiss.”
We decided that the Local VFW Post 3081 would be the perfect location. They loved the idea and gave their approval.
Marty arrived in Grafton in May and began work right away.
We hit a bit of a hurdle when a local business owner decided he was not thrilled with the idea of this mural going up next to his business. But fortunately another property owner, Shannon McCartney, was excited to allow us to use his building as a new canvas for our project, so we quickly got to work on some general maintenance so the project could be re-started.
Working relentlessly for three days, Marty finished up the mural just in time for our Memorial Day Spirit of Grafton and 150th Parade.
Although we were met with challenges, we pushed through with a positive attitude, we worked together, and we persevered.
And we are proud of our Memorial City Mural. It happened with the help of our City Manager, Kevin Stead, local leader, Tom Hart, Toothman Ford employee, Brian Lough, my husband and his friend, Andy Collins and JP Burns, Mountain Statesman editor and staff writer, Nicki Skinner, Sarah Jones and Joe Hildreth, and all the support from visitors and the community as a whole.
It truly take a village.