Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts is set to install its sixth mosaic mural – this time, at South Hills Park – from 5 to 8 p.m. July 17 through July 21.
Members of the public, especially youth and artists, are invited to help continue the annual tradition that aims to beautify and revitalize public spaces and deter graffiti.
LVCA board president Sharon Zook said it is important that people learn the mosaic-making process so the tradition can continue. The artist who taught LVCA the process moved to Lebanon County from Philadelphia and is now moving out of the area to West Virginia.
Zook said the arts organization attempts to “keep that conversation [about where the annual mosaic mural should be installed] open to people in the area who are interested in public art.”
The site for this year’s mosaic mural emerged from a conversation she had with Chris Black. Black’s work in planting and caring for trees at the park started in the spring of 2018 and grew after his brother, a professional arborist, died in a work accident later that year.
“No one [at the park] was really pursuing anything,” Zook said. “It was just part of a conversation. He said, ‘Hey, you know, this might be a good idea over here.’ Apparently, it was something that had been talked about, of having some form of art. But … no connections were ever made to implement it. So, this was the conversation that actually got some action behind it.”
Following Zook and Black’s conversation, the park and the arts organization started to work on the specifics of the mosaic mural. Out of the white-block buildings in the park near the offices, LVCA chose the buildings that face the baseball fields.
“This will be the first one that’s in the county, like … kind of outside of the jurisdiction of the city,” Zook said. “But, we’re Lebanon Valley Council on the Arts. We’re not a city organization. And so, we’re excited to move out into the county.”
Autumn Krouse is the lead artist for this year’s mosaic mural. Krouse leaned into art after her brother was shot and killed by Pennsylvania State Trooper Jay Splain in the fall of 2021. She recently completed a mandala mural project at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility.
Zook said the park board “wanted a nature theme. And they wanted to include some of the common things that people enjoy seeing at the park, which [are] the squirrels, the hawks, and the nature. So, it’s some of the things that draw people to the park and they talk about.”
For this year’s mosaic mural, several people were asked why they enjoy spending time at the park. Their responses and other background information was given to Krouse, who also visited the site.
“That is the beginning [of the] process. Like it’s a long process because, when you do a permanent installation or when you do any public art, it’s the public. It’s the voice of the public,” Zook said. “So, in order to give voice to the public, we need to know what that voice is, you know?”
Krouse has been working on preliminary sketches of the design. The park board has been reviewing the sketches and providing her with feedback. The final sketch of the design for this year’s mosaic mural cannot be released as it will evolve while it is being installed.
Zook said this year’s mosaic mural will be “a mixed-media type of installation,” which might see a greater use of paint due to Krouse’s background as well as the level of detail in the design. LVCA anticipates the paint, touch-up paint, and highlights will be added after the third week in July, once the grout has dried.
In addition to paint, ceramic tile, mirror pieces, and a variety of tesserae – the materials that compose a mosaic – will also be used to create this year’s mosaic mural.
When asked whether LVCA had faced any obstacles yet with this year’s mosaic mural, Zook said, “No. I had to go for the spaces where we could just like do what we are professional at without any hold-ups.”
Zook recognized The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Thrivent Financial, and Kiwanis as donors for this year’s mosaic mural.
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