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Artistic touch

Jac-Cen-Del Elementary School students
paint restaurant mural in Canaan

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

CANAAN, Ind. (November 2005) – Allowing youngsters to paint on the wall usually isn’t a good thing, but in this case, Stacy Hardesty-Gray has made it a good thing.
Hardesty-Gray is the elementary school art teacher at Jac-Cen-Del Elementary School but also teaches art classes for children during her summer break from school. This past summer she decided to undertake a new project: having kids paint a mural somewhere locally.

Painting of Teepees

Photos by Don Ward

Painting of teepees by Clay Brawner, 10,
Sydney Dailey, 10, Bailey Laub, 11,
and Brittany Gray, 13.

Hardesty-Gray frequently dined at the Indian Trails Restaurant, 8856 N. Main St., in Canaan, and decided it would be the perfect place for a children’s mural. Hardesty-Gray approached Jackline Gibson, owner of the restaurant, about her new idea. Gibson decided “it was a great idea and would liven up the place.” Gibson told Hardesty-Gray where the kids could paint but left the rest up to the children and their teacher.
Hardesty-Gray’s next step was to recruit kids to work on the mural. She placed an ad in the paper for those interested in painting and the new project. Once the new students, ages 7-13 were assembled, she asked the kids to “think about local history and the background of the area” to come up with an idea suitable for the restaurant.
The kids let their imaginations roam from there. Three various murals were created and prepared to be painted on the portable wall next to the kitchen of the restaurant. The middle-aged children created the first mural and is an outdoor scene featuring Indians, teepees, canoes, evergreen trees and the sunset. The second mural, painted by the older kids, is an indoor scene featuring a table full of food with two windows looking outside at rural barn scene.

Painting of Teepees

Stacey
Hardesty-Gray

In the room with the table is also a painting of a cowboy. The third mural done by the youngest group of kids is a close-up of an Indian, flowers, horses, trees and clouds. All three murals were traced onto a transparency and then projected onto the wall by an overhead projector. The murals now brighten 25 feet of previously bare wall.
“At first they were just going to paint one section of the wall, but when they arrived, I told them to go ahead and paint the whole thing,” said Gibson, who has operated the restaurant for seven years.
The murals are a conglomeration of each child’s personal drawings. Once each mural was created, it became a group project, but each child was responsible for choosing the colors for his personal section. The kids then painted the mural together as a whole.
The project at the Indian Trails Restaurant lasted all summer long with each section of the mural being worked on for 15 to 20 hours spread out over a two- to three-week period.
Gibson said she is pleased with the result of the murals in her restaurant and is proud of the way the kids poured “their hearts and souls into it.” She says that her customers love the murals as well.
Hardesty-Gray isn’t finished. She is planning to undertake another project soon with her sixth-graders from Jac-Cen-Del. This time the kids will brighten up the walls of a nursing home. The Manderley Health Care Center, 806 S. Buckeye St., in Osgood, Ind., is allowing the kids to paint a mural in their activity room, the Snoezelen Room, which is a multi-sensory stimulation room that runs off various types of lighting. The point of the room is to provide an atmosphere of relaxation for the patients.
Teresa Sparkman will be the representative from the nursing home working on this new project with Hardesty-Gray and the sixth-graders. Sparkman said she is excited to work with the children and thinks the project is a wonderful idea. Two different themes are being discussed to paint in the Snoezelen Room.
The first is an aquatic ocean scene and the second is a garden scene. Sparkman favors the garden theme because “the room has butterflies in it that glow in the dark,” and she thinks the garden scene would look great with the décor that’s already in the room.
Hardesty-Gray plans on taking a similar approach to the new project at Manderley as she did with her summer kids at the restaurant.
She will have the kids choose a drawing on which they all agree and will then have them work on the mural together. Sparkman believes her patients will react wonderfully to the kids being in the nursing home and will enjoy “observing the kids” while they paint.

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