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Fine art & fine teas: Opportunities to be involved with Danville’s first international mural

By ARIANA GORTON

Danville Sister Cities

On Saturday, internationally known Irish muralist Dee Craig will arrive in Danville from Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, Danville’s Sister City. His three-week residency will include a welcome reception at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 for Sister City supporters at Stephen Powell’s private glass studio, painting sessions with local students and the general public at Danville High School, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas to celebrate the mural installation.

“We are honored to supply the setting for this artwork which signifies the union of Danville with our sister city of Carrickfergus,” said Bruce Richardson of Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. “The image of people sharing tea together is the perfect metaphor for bringing cultures together. After all, tea has been the international cup of humanity for centuries.”

On Oct. 8 and 9, Danville Sister Cities will be hosting “Dabble with Dee”, open studio sessions with Dee Craig at the Danville High School at 203 East Lexington Ave. This is a unique opportunity to watch Craig in action and a chance to help paint the mural on fabric. Three sessions are available: Oct 8, 2-4 p.m., Oct 8, 6-8 p.m., and Oct 9, 1-3 p.m. Admission is free, however space is limited to 15 people per session, on a first-come-first-served basis. Participants must register at https://www.downtowndanville.com/store/dabble-with-dee. Children 14 and younger should be accompanied by an adult. Participants are asked to enter by the front doors of DHS.

Local artist Brandon Long explains why this event would be a great opportunity for anyone who is curious about the mural making process. “They will learn how Dee is able to take an image from a photograph, turn it into a painting, and recreate it on a huge scale. They’ll learn how he thinks about and divides the artwork into blocks of color to make it look like a photograph from a distance. You step back and it looks so real! He works to paint most of the image on fabric in the studio, allowing him to work inside, out of the elements, and then later apply the painting like oversized wallpaper. Once it’s done this mural will go up fast,” Long said.

“Danville is not only getting an incredible mural, they are also getting an artist who is willing to share his experience and techniques with us. It’s a great opportunity for our local artists to work closely with Dee and get the know-how to translate their art onto much larger surfaces in a way that will last for years to come.”

To celebrate the mural installation, the Sister Cities Commission is inviting the public to a ribbon-cutting, sponsored by the Danville-Boyle County Chamber of Commerce, to be held in front of the newly completed mural on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 5 p.m. followed by the Chamber’s Business-After-Hours at Elmwood Inn Fine Teas. Visitors will have the opportunity to sample some of Elmwood Inn’s world-famous teas. As a bonus, just two blocks away, the event coincides with Heart of Danville’s Main Street Live, which will take place from 6-9 p.m. at Fourth and Main streets.

Craig’s visit continues the 10-year Sister-City relationship between Danville and Carrickfergus, which is now part of the Mid and East Antrim merged Council. Over the past decade, Danville has hosted Irish mayors, artists, council members, students, actors, musicians, and re-enactors, while more than 500 Danvillians have been warmly welcomed in Carrickfergus.

“The mural will remind us of our heritage as well as our connection to others around the world,” said Milton Reigelman, chair of Danville’s Sister Cities Commission. He noted that Danville was founded by many Scot-Irish Presbyterians who had come from or through Carrickfergus. “The names on the tombstones in our Belleview Cemetery echo the names on the tombstones in the cemetery of Carrickfergus’s 12th-century St. Nicholas Church: McDowell, Birney, McClure, Baker, etc. This mural will be another way of furthering President Eisenhower’s goal of Citizen Diplomacy when he founded Sister Cities International 60 years ago.”

IF YOU GO

Oct. 8

Dabble with Dee

2-4 p.m.

6-8 p.m.

Oct. 9

Dabble with Dee

1-3 p.m.

Oct. 18

Business-After-Hours

4:30-6:30 p.m.

Mural Ribbon-Cutting

5 p.m.

Main Street Live

6-9 p.m.