Young artists turn dull walls into lively art

Murals: In two unrelated projects, children have spent the summer painting murals on walls in Baltimore with glorious results.

August 12, 1999|By La Quinta Dixon | La Quinta Dixon,SUN STAFF

Beads of blue paint freckled the legs and pink shirt of 12-year-old Schanchez Roberson as she dabbed, smeared and swirled her paint brush one day last week to create a bright blue sky on the brick wall of ABC Park's field house.

The painting of the mural has been a diversion from the lazy days of television watching that Schanchez and 12 other children who go to the Samuel F. B. Morse Recreation Center had planned for the past two weeks. Each day, the group tromped to the Southwest Baltimore park to participate in one of two new, unrelated mural projects in the city this summer.

The second mural project, painted by an Ellicott City boy, went up last week on the Heritage Building at North Avenue and St. Paul Street.

Part of $90,000 in improvements -- which include adding two new playgrounds and landscaping the perimeter -- the ABC Park mural should be completed by Saturday

Neighborhood Design Center, a nonprofit agency that finds volunteer architects for developing communities, is helping renovate and repair ABC, as well as 10 other parks in the city. To help with the mural, the agency recruited Baltimore artist Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen. He and the team of 13 children used the artwork of more than 30 children from the community center to create the mosaic.

Each wall was designed with a different theme. A brown figure in a straw skirt dances across the north wall. Fireworks shoot up a chimney facing east. A school of red fish swim into a blue pond on the south wall. Children of different races play together near rolling hills on the west wall.

"I hope people will think twice about the community because the mural is the beginning to make the community a better place to live," said Schanchez.

On St. Paul Street, Aaron Maybin, 11, of Ellicott City, finished painting a mural last week of a drawing of his. Emblazoned across the rear wall of the Heritage Building at 1905 St. Paul St., the 50-foot-by-40-foot mural depicts three hands belonging to people of different races putting up the last bricks on a wall

"Racism has to end and [in the mural] all the different races are coming together to watch this wall being built by different races," said Aaron, who spent three weeks painting with Americorps volunteer and urban artist Kirk Seese and graffiti artist Amir Fallah, a Maryland Institute, College of Art sophomore.

The mural is the sixth of 20 murals that are being planned and painted with the help of the Greater Homewood Community Corp. in the North Charles and Charles Village area. Seese has donated his time to Greater Homewood to create murals throughout the city.

North Charles neighborhood leaders praised the mural's artist and message.

"Sure there are kids doing the wrong things out there, but Aaron is a pretty typical kid [doing good things]," said Jenny Hope, executive director of the Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity, which leases an office at the Heritage.

Hope, a Maybin family friend, saw Aaron's entry and asked the Rev. Mike Coles of the Seventh Baptist Church, which owns the Heritage, for permission in June to repaint the "plain-looking" rear facade of the building.

"I was impressed with the concept of reconciliation -- racially, culturally and sexually," Coles said. "It brings people together and prompts some thinking, and we need to facilitate that kind of thinking."

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