Painted Street mural completed

By Tamie Meck

Painted Street mural completed | Paonia, Mural

Photo by Tamie Meck Volunteers add the final touches to the street mural on Fourth Street in Paonia Sunday. The project took three days to paint, was about five months from conception to completion, and involved more than 200 members of the community.

The first Painted Street Project is complete.

The mural was painted over a period of three days, and the last touches of paint were applied Sunday afternoon. The brightly colored floral design lies along Fourth Street, directly south of Paonia Elementary School, and covers about 800 square feet of blacktop.

The idea was first proposed to PES first-grade teacher Jodi Simpson by Lauren Ziccardi, a teacher with The Learning Council, whom Simpson had invited to speak at her class.

Members from local organizations including the Village Building Convergence, The Learning Council and PES staff, students and parents all joined forces to make the idea a reality. More than 60 designs were considered, and an application was submitted to the Town of Paonia, which worked with the group throughout the application process.

From conception to completion the project took about five months of planning and involved more than 200 citizens, said Ziccardi, now an elementary school teacher at the new North Fork School of Integrated Studies at PES.

In response to the application, town trustees passed the Paonia Painted Streets Policy -- based on similar policies in Portland, Ore. --­ which defines a painted street project and its purpose, and outlines the application requirements. Anyone wanting to create a similar project in the future must go through the application process and receive approval from the town.

"I think it's very beautiful," and adds to the neighborhood, said Steve Leighton, whose house is located within a few feet of the mural. Leighton praised the concept of community building and partnership behind the project, and the level of organization it took to make it happen. "It's very much a community-building project," said Leighton.

The mural required about 40 gallons of custom-pigment Cabot acrylic deck stain from Dependable Lumber, said artistic coordinator Susie Lowe.

Other art projects, including weaving of brightly-colored strips of T-shirt material donated by Elizabethan into patterns along the school fence, and the construction of a willow branch arch over the north lawn entrance by artist Ryan Strand, were simultaneously taking place.

Volunteers were fed meals cooked in solar ovens by the local solar energy community and members of Solar Energy International. Ziccardi said that on Saturday they served 66 lunches.

When it was completed and lunch was served, a drone hovered overhead early Sunday afternoon, photographing the scene and capturing images of volunteers circled around the mural in celebration (see photo on page B3).