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Students pitch in on mural at Parkersburg floodwall

Marietta College sophomore Isabelle Bradley uses a roller to apply paint to the floodwall at Point Park in Parkersburg on Wednesday, careful to paint around a printed grid showing which colors go where on the 160-foot-wide mural segment designed by artist Christopher Santer. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — The natural scenery along the Ohio River is being supplemented with a mural starting to take shape on the Parkersburg floodwall.

Artist Christopher Santer, who is originally from Parkersburg and now lives in St. Paul, Minn., designed the mural, which will incorporate sheet music from “Country Roads” by John Denver, transitioning into colorful mountain scenery and the distinctive railroad bridge in downtown Parkersburg.

After the first section was primed and sealed last month, Santer got to work on Saturday, measuring and mixing paint. On Monday, he sketched out a grid across the 20-by-160-foot area to guide the creation of the mountain section.

“The grid is an overall plan of what would go in every five square feet of it,” he said.

On Wednesday, he welcomed assistance from Parkersburg South High School art teacher Abbie Burge and some of her students, past and present.

Parkersburg South High School senior Avery Burris, left, and junior Luna Spears paint a portion of the floodwall mural at Point Park in Parkersburg on Wednesday. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

“I think it’s amazing,” Burge said. “It gives them buy-in, and it helps them connect with the community.”

Marietta College sophomore Isabelle Bradley said she was glad to help when her former teacher told her about the opportunity.

“This sounds like a great idea to get involved, with a little making of my mark on the community,” she said.

Santer, who teaches art at a high school in Minnesota, said he reached out to art teachers at South, Parkersburg and Parkersburg Catholic high schools.

“All along there’s been talk about having local students involved,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll inspire them — big painting, 160-foot painting — (it) can be done.”

Parkersburg South High School art teacher Abby Burge paints a portion of the mural on the floodwall at Point Park on Wednesday. Burge is one of the art teachers contacted by artist Christopher Santer to get local students involved with the project. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Santer expects students to be assisting on the project through Saturday, while he’s blocked out four weeks to work on phase one.

“I’m here for a month,” he said.

The mural project was organized by Edward Escandon, who is a member of its steering committee, while Downtown PKB is the fiscal sponsor. More information about the project is available online at parkersburgflood.org and on the Parkersburg Floodwall Mural Project Facebook page.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com

Artist Christopher Santer, right, works on the Parkersburg floodwall mural in Point Park on Wednesday while standing on a lift with Paul Mullins, a fellow artist and West Virginia native who came down from Pittsburgh to assist with the project. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

Artist and Parkersburg native Christopher Santer is working on the first phase of the mural on the city’s floodwall over the next month. This week, he’s getting assistance from local art students. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

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