By Purva Indulkar
The residents of Pickaway County are passionate about preserving the history and culture of their towns. But they’re using a unique way to do that – murals! Placed on brick walls across the towns of Circleville and Ashville, these enormous optical illusions give a glimpse of the county’s past. Here are the three murals that every history buff and art enthusiast should visit.
1) Pumpkin Show Mural
This mural is located in the parking lot of the Circleville branch of Chase Bank. It covers the entire wall of a two-story building. The optical illusion in the mural gives the impression that one is standing in the picture – a snapshot of Pickaway from 1903. In the mural the streets of Circleville are lined with horse carts filled to the brim with pumpkins, which is exactly what the town looks like during its annual pumpkin show every October. The mural has the colorful brick buildings that line the streets today. The people in the mural are milling about, their sizes just the same as real people walking by. “It’s like looking through the past,” says J P Pennel, the former President of a local nonprofit organization ‘ArtsaRound’.
Commissioned in 2010 this mural honors the commemorative bicentennial anniversary of Pickaway County. The number 1810, the year in which both Pickaway and Circleville were founded, is painted into the pillars of a gate. Two Native Americans guard it as families in the mural walk around next to the octagonal courthouse. With a canal boat on the left and a trolley to Columbus on the right, the art also alludes to Pickaway’s history as a hub of transportation and trade.
3) 4th of July Mural
The Ohio’s Small Town Museum is located in Ashville and the 4th of July mural is painted on one of its brick walls. “There are so many hidden messages in this mural, about different aspects of Ashville and the people,” says Pennel. In the mural, a band wearing blue and white top hats and tail coats marches across the street playing saxophones and drums. One can spend a whole afternoon trying to identify all the details.
The residents of Pickaway have played a key role in creating murals by donating funds or offering their property. They have also contributed in other ways to support local artists and to create a space that fosters talent. “People don’t just want to sleep in their community,” says Pennel. “They want to live in their community.”