MCEAP Pet Mural
The MCEAP Pet Mural Project ‘Family of Pets’
By Sue Hossack BRAA member Article in News Messenger
In October 2018 local artist Stephanie Akers began painting a mural in Christiansburg on the corner of First St and Roanoke St. as a fund raiser for Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program (MCEAP). For a donation of $100 people’s beloved pets would be painted on the wall on the courthouse parking lot side of Roanoke Street.
Unfortunately, in the spring of 2019, Stephanie began pursuing a new career agenda and has to step away from the project. At that time, only 30 pets out of more than 70 had been painted. MCEAP board members Matt Nottingham and Brenda Springer put out a call for artists to assist in completing the mural. Altogether nine artists agreed to help, several of them from BRAA.
In May Brenda met with us to discuss how we could carry on the project. While investigating the wall and what had been painted we came to the unavoidable conclusion that what had been done so far had already started to peel: we would have to remove everything that had been painted, completely clean the wall, before sealing it correctly and applying a base coat of background color. I took the lead on the project and began the work of photographing and tracing all the pets already completed so they would be fairly easy to reproduce later.
Greg Branscome of New Look Exterior, agreed to power wash the wall at no charge if we added his three dogs to the mural Volunteers scraped the remaining paint off, applied sealer and primed the wall in green. We did this in stages so we could begin painting animals on one section while further work was underway for prepping on another section.
Beginning in June I designed a new mural, and began the task of laying it out. I started repainting the original animals and adding the others. During the hot summer and into the fall I painted 71 animals, the rainbow steps, and a tree.
Later on other artists in the group were able to paint with me. With the help of Lee Walker, Mary Ratliff, Joanna Reinhold and Nikki Pynn, we completed 67 dogs, 14 cats, 3 horses 1 duck, 1 rabbit and 1 goat, plus several bees, butterflies, and dragonflies, (a final total of 87 animals!) One of the dogs, Lyle, is a therapy dog, who goes to Falling Branch Elementary, so I added a frog: their school mascot.
The mural is complete for now, but MCEAP will begin taking applications for new pets in the spring. There is plenty of room of the wall for them. It has been a lot of fun painting out in the open with such large subjects, talking to people walking to and from the court house, and I am looking forward to more painting next year. I learnt a lot about painting dogs, and improved as the weeks went by.