Arts & Culture

Princeton Community Invited To Paint Giant Fabric Mural

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The latest mural design for buildings on Mercer Street in Princeton was designed by Ellen Elmes. The mural will go on the side of a building in Historic Downtown Princeton, WV.
Ellen Elmes

The RiffRaff Arts Collective and Holler Contemporary Appalachian Art Gallery are inviting local resident to help bring the latest mural in one Mercer County town to life.

The organizations are asking people who can paint inside the lines and who are in 5th grade or older to help with what they’re calling “community paint-ins.”

“The idea is to get people of all ages engaged in the process, take ownership and have the experience of having a hand in the growth of downtown,” said Lori McKinney, founder and director of the RiffRaff Arts Collective. “It's about creating an entry point for people to get involved, and for those who have fond memories of Mercer Street. It's a way to come together, reminisce and honor that history as we move into the future. “

The mural will depict the history of downtown Princeton through a collage of images. Mural designer Ellen Elmes based the piece on stories from the community. According to a release, residents reminisced of department stores, popcorn stands, and other nostalgic images as well as more current memories from Mercer Street such as an elephant on parade, butterfly wings and a clown on stilts.

The latest mural design for buildings on Mercer Street in Princeton was designed by Ellen Elmes. The mural will go on the side of a building in Historic Downtown Princeton, WV.

It’s the latest in a host of murals painted along Mercer Street in Princeton since 2013.

Artists are currently painting the design on 18 separate fabric pieces.

“This is a popular technique in public art, painting on "parachute fabric" or "polytab," McKinney said. “It can be painted anywhere, indoors or outdoors, so weather isn't a limiting factor, and the artist can paint in their studio at all hours and at their own leisure. It also opens up the ability to collaborate in the creation of the mural anywhere-- in the classroom, in the park, anywhere. It will be particularly helpful and cost-effective if we're working with a muralist who lives out of town.”

Once the pieces are put together, the art will be glued to cover part of a building in the downtown Princeton Historic District. The mural will be 12 feet high and 20 feet wide.

“It is permanent, and actually has a longer life than murals painted onto brick,” McKinney said. “Once it is installed, and sealed with the special varnish from Golden Artist Colors, it's good to go for years to come.”

McKinney says she and her team are learning this technique from Elmes.

The mural artists working.
Lori McKinney

“It's like paint by numbers, just like a coloring book,” McKinney said. “The colors and sections are marked so you know where to paint, and skilled artists will be guiding and instructing the process.”

The “community paint-ins” will be guided by The RiffRaff’s lead painter, Lacey Vilandry, along with other experienced painters. The events are scheduled for June 12, 19 and 29. If it rains, the “community paint-ins” will move indoors to the back of Appalachian Coffeehouse on Mercer Street.

For more information contact The RiffRaff Arts Collective.

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