Arts Commission Announces Meter Mural Project Winners

A miniature mural of an aquatic scene, inspired by nearby Coleman’s Fish Market, has netted the Best of Show prize in the Centre Market Parking Meter Mural Project, sponsored by the Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission.

Retired teacher Jeri Delong of Shadyside won $250 for the meter she painted, titled “Fish.” In a written statement, the Artworks Around Town member called it “a fanciful and fun painting of sea creatures, inspired by the fact that Coleman’s Fish Market is the Centre Market’s ‘anchor’ (no pun intended?).” She added: “I think sea creatures and the world under water is beautiful.”

Merit awards for the parking meter beautification project were presented to Amanda Carney, owner of Cat’s Paw Studio, for “Place of the Skull”; “Ants” by April Waltz of Wheeling; “Buddha” by Amy Perrier of Pittsburgh and “Wyandotte Woman and Man” by Cecy Rose of Wheeling.

“There are so many wonderful designs that whittling it down to five winners was immensely challenging. We are proud of all of the meter artists and grateful for their participation,” said Erika Donaghy, commission chair and contest judge along with local artists Patricia Croft and Bob Villamagna and commission member Susan Hogan.

Donaghy said the commission had hoped to get 25-30 submissions, but in the end, 58 designs were accepted. “The turnout was amazing.”

Thirty-four artists descended on Center Wheeling two weeks ago and completed 41 murals over a couple of days. The remaining designs submitted by the artists will be used in future projects. Delong said she spent 14 hours perfecting her “Fish” piece.

The purpose of the project was to give artists a stake in the community and beautify the historic Centre Market area. Wheeling is a West Virginia Certified Arts Community, and Mayor Andy McKenzie established the Arts and Cultural Commission “promote and develop artistic and cultural activities and initiatives that stimulate economic development and advance the quality of life and vibrancy of the Greater Wheeling Area,” according to its mission statement.

Kurt Zende, Centre Market manager, said the murals have been attracting attention.

“It has a very positive impact especially from an eatery point of view. People are coming down in the evenings to look at the meters and staying to dine. It is bringing people that may not have otherwise come down to the Center Wheeling area. They are then staying to shop at the businesses here,” Zende said.

Donaghy said participants in the project included professional artists, art organizations, students, teachers and others. Delong received $250, and the merit award winners won $100 apiece.

A project to create crosswalk art is slated for late spring or early summer, she noted.

The commission is seeking artists to help decorate a tree to support the Oglebay Institute Festival of Trees scholarship fundraising efforts.

“All artists and arts organizations are welcome to submit an ornament. … The theme is elephants in keeping with the public art initiative to commemorate the elephants crossing the Suspension Bridge for the circus in the 1950s,” Donaghy said.