A life-size mural of Indiana Fletcher Williams and daughter, Daisy, adorns the corner of Main and Second streets in downtown Amherst. The painting, which covers one of eight windows on the historic Goodwin Building, was unveiled yesterday along with seven other panels created by National Art Honor Society high school students as part of the ArtWindows project.
Led by Amherst County High School art teacher Maryellen Barron and sponsored by local arts organizations and individual supporters, the project marks yet another milestone in Amherst’s recent efforts to “add a bit of spice to the downtown arena,” said Suny Monk, who helped sponsor the initiative with her husband, Sweet Briar art professor Joe Monk. Previously, volunteers had painted the town’s parking meters as part of the ArtMeters project.
Standing atop the roving tree stump spotted at previous town gatherings, Barron addressed the more than 100 spectators and thanked the community for its support.
“I didn’t really know what a big project it would be, and that’s why I said yes,” Barron said.
She added that ArtWindows was “just the beginning” in her efforts to “enrich the town” and would be followed by additional student art projects in the coming years.
At the count of three, students unveiled their paintings to the sound of cheers and applause from family, friends and neighbors.
For their murals, students picked local historical figures from a list suggested by Bob Wimer and Leah Gibbs, authors of the book “Amherst: From Taverns to a Town.”
Barron’s daughter Sienna, an Amherst County High School sophomore, painted Sweet Briar founder Indiana Fletcher Williams and Daisy. The mural is based on several portraits and brochures she received from President Jo Ellen Parker when visiting Sweet Briar House.
Sienna Barron’s interest in the College’s history was stirred when she participated in Sweet Briar’s 2012 Blue Ridge Summer Institute for Young Artists (BLUR), an interdisciplinary arts camp for high school students — a perfect fit for Barron, who also acts, sings and dances. ArtWindows was her first attempt at painting.
Other local celebrities portrayed in the paintings include the Rev. Robert Rose (1704-1751) by Bryan Taylor, Dr. Reuben Barnes Ware (1873-1964) by Sarah McCafferty, postmaster Arthur Gates Ware (1911-1990) by Ryan Mattox, nationally acclaimed artist Queena Stovall (1887-1980) by Lauren Huffman, Sheriff Henry Myers (1900-1970) by Taylyn Soult, midwife Florence “Sis” Yancey (1870-1978) by Alison Tyler, and barber Eddie Rodwell (1922-2005), along with judge Willard Douglas (born 1932), painted by Zach Mays and Tiffany Foster. The paintings were completed during the summer.