PIQUA — A new mural depicting Piqua’s early history is taking shape at 101 E. High St., the building that houses the Piqua Daily Call, Quint Creative Signs, and Miami County AAA.
“It was time to freshen things up,” said Lorna Swisher, director of the Mainstreet Piqua group that worked to bring the new mural to life. “The design will be a memorable highlight downtown.”
The mural depicts a member of one of the Ohio Woodlands tribes from the Piqua area, alongside a scene from the Miami-Erie Canal.
“It was extremely important to us that we portrayed the indigenous person accurately and respectfully,” Swisher said. “We began by consulting with local historians and with Andy Hite from the Johnston Farm, which houses extensive Ohio tribal collections and archives.”
After these resources had fully vetted the graphic, Hite sent it to the Eastern Shawnee Tribal Cultural Officers for their feedback. The tribal officers approved it as correctly reflecting the traditional appearance of a member of the Ohio Woodland tribes. According to Hite, “We need to respect the traditions and the image we portray of our indigenous people. I feel confident that we’ve done that in this case. The image absolutely honors our area’s heritage and rich history.”
The artist, Eric Henn, is based in Franklin, just south of Dayton. Henn began prepping the 20-by-80-foot, second-story area in May.
“This is a great little town,” Henn said. “I grew up in a small town like this.”
Henn’s artistic career began with painting surfboards and T-shirts in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Since then, the scale of his work has grown to include decorating water towers, industrial tanks and feature walls at malls and amusement parks internationally.
“I’ve worked from Los Angeles to Australia,” he noted.
Locally, his work can be found on Marathon tanks in Findlay, at Flag City, U.S.A., and in murals in Miamisburg and Franklin.
Several local foundations and individuals funded the project. “We are extremely thankful for the amount of community support we received. We also were able to use funds from our ongoing beautification program,” Swisher said. “Each year, we raise funds for our downtown planter program and other projects in downtown Piqua. We receive support from many, many households and businesses each year.”
Contributors for this project include the Miami County Foundation, George B. Quatman Foundation, Hartzell-Norris Charitable Trust, and the Neils & Ruth Lundgard Foundation.
According to Ruth Koon, who is active in many community causes, the mural might be the first of more to be considered for the downtown area. After the first project is complete, the committee will be looking for additional sites and ideas for future projects.
”We don’t want it to look cluttered or busy,” Koon said. “We’re not doing it to be trendy, but believe it creates a very positive image and memory of our town,” she added.
For more about Henn and his work, check out his Facebook page, Eric Henn Murals, or his website at www.erichennmurals.com.