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Sister Cities artist to paint mural on Elmwood Inn Fine Teas

Elmwood Inn Fine Teas will lend a portion of its outer wall to international muralist Dee Craig when he visits from Danville’s sister city of Carrickfergus, Ireland, this fall.

Craig was selected earlier this year to participate in the Sister Cities Artist Exchange program between Danville and Carrickfergus. He has painted award-winning murals around the world and is known for projects in his home country coloring over paramilitary murals, which were created during 30 years of conflict there known as “The Troubles.”

Now, with some help from Danville High School students, Craig will leave his mark in Danville, on cloth panels that will be affixed to the south wall of Elmwood Inn, on North Second Street.

Dee Craig

“We are excited. Milton Riegelman and Mary Beth Touchstone (with the Sister Cities Commission) approached us about this … and we thought it was a really great idea,” said Shelley Richardson, an owner of Elmwood Inn. “… When we first started speaking about it, we hoped that it would be very engaging for the community and hopefully the subject matter will be something very positive and uplifting.”

Danville’s Architectural Heritage Board approved the mural location at a special called meeting Wednesday morning; the Sister Cities Commission will be returning to the AHB for another approval once Craig develops his plan for the mural, said Touchstone at Wednesday’s meeting.

Touchstone said Craig’s three-week visit to Danville is tentatively slated for sometime in September and/or October.

The application states that Craig will work “directly with Danville High School students off-site to paint the cloth that will become the mural” and “lead a workshop to train local artists in this process.”

By not painting directly on the building, Craig’s timeline for completing the mural during his brief stay will not be affected by weather, according to the application.

“The mural is painted on parachute cloth indoors or under cover outdoors and then, when the weather is cooperating, the fabric is ‘wall papered’ onto the wall,” the application states. “… These murals last as long as traditional murals (10+ years, with the occasional touch-ups) and can be removed or painted over, just like traditional murals. The Danville Sister Cities Commission will be responsible for the maintenance of the mural.”

Craig, 46, “was the first to introduce the ‘parachute cloth’ mural technique,” according to a biography included in his portfolio. He is “the first and only person to practice this process in Europe.”

Elmwood Inn’s neighborhood includes the Beer Engine, West T. Hill Community Theatre and the rear seating area of Plank on Main. It’s an area that “seems ideally suited for another placemaking initiative,” according to the application.

“Our expectation is that the mural will add vibrancy to an up-and-coming area with great proximity to Main Street, but not competing with the historic preservation efforts that have enhanced Danville’s charm,” the application reads.

Richardson agreed she thinks the mural could be helpful to the area and “bring some beauty and some art to this little space here.”

“I’m just really excited that they approved this and this will be a wonderful project to work with,” she said. “I’m excited to meet the artist and work with him.”

About Dee Craig

From Craig’s bio: “David ‘Dee’ Craig, born in Belfast in 1971, is an internationally renowned award-winning artist, who specializes in large-scale mural art. Dee has a very successful studio practic with collectors worldwide, but dedicates most of his time to mural arts and community projects.

“He is one of Ireland’s most prolific mural artists and his work can be seen throughout the UK, Ireland and across the globe.

“… Dee feels that from issues such as income inequality and unemployment to poverty, education and healthcare, that communities around the world are facing critical challenges and lack of expression that require creative ideas and solutions.

“Any of these challenges could use an artist’s mind, a creative question or a critical thinker to help us find out way to a more healthy and just future with a visual insight into a community.”

Other business

Also at Wednesday’s special called AHB meeting, the board:

• voted to keep Tom Tye as chair and Mary Girard as vice chair, and named Melodee Quinn secretary;

Ben Kleppinger/ben.kleppinger@amnews.com
Mary Girard, vice chair of the Danville Architectural Heritage Board, made the motion Wednesday to approve the location for a mural to be designed by international muralist and Sister Cities Artist Exchange participant Dee Craig.

• approved a window replacement plan for Trinity Episcopal Church, but tabled plans to cover rotting wood with aluminum — “a really, really bad idea,” Girard said; and

• heard that Danville’s Preservation Coordinator Joni House issued the city’s first ever staff-approved certificate of appropriateness, meaning more downtown projects can move forward quickly without waiting for approval from the full board.