Defiance County is like a blank canvas for artists with hundreds of stories waiting to be told. Some of those stories are being told with the bold brush strokes of murals. Several of these artworks have been unveiled across the county. Defiance City currently has two murals with a third underway. Murals are located in an alleyway between Second and Third streets and on the interior wall of the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB) on Clinton Street. A third mural on the 500 block of Clinton Street (facing the canal) is underway. The village of Hicksville also recently completed a large mural on High Street.
The murals depict many things ranging from pop culture (including Star Trek characters, famous actors/actresses), the county fair, local history and more.
“Art is a need in any community and will only make us stronger,” said Kirstie Mack, executive director of the DDVB, of the murals.
“There are ideas for additional murals,” she continued. “Many discussions are currently being had regarding the zoning code and sign code for future murals and artwork development.”
Mack has fielded many questions by people asking when there will be more murals.
Building owner Pauletta Cox can answer that one. A mural already is in progress on her building on Clinton Street. (See Below) It will feature a giant butterfly with the words “be kind” on it.
“We would like the mural on our building to help enhance the beauty of the downtown area,” she stated.
Cox added that the mural will give “the community beautiful art work to look at and utilize.”
“We are hoping the community will love it as much as we do,” she exclaimed.
Hicksville Chamber of Commerce president Jodi Bland said her community definitely loves its new mural. (Below)
“We have had nothing but positive feedback from the community during the process and once (it was) finished,” she praised.
Bland said she hasn’t heard any plans about another mural in the village “but that would look amazing if done I am sure.”
The murals in the county came about in different ways. “The idea of bringing a mural to Hicksville was a shared vision across all our board members,” Bland said. “When traveling, many of us would notice other murals in different towns and would stop and take pictures. We knew that this was something we wanted for Hicksville, and it is our hope it gets people from other towns to come and visit and shop around our local businesses.”
Mack said that many communities have mural projects.
“Art has been part of the discussion for quite a while,” she declared, adding that at a conference a few years ago a speaker discussed arts commissions and mural projects. “It started the conversation (about murals) here in Defiance.”
The topics of the murals were decided through collaboration between the artists, building owners and others. Artists have included Amy Buchs, Jeff Crabill and Sam Meyer. Painting the murals took several weeks for each one.
Funding also was needed for some of the murals. In Hicksville, the chamber saved membership funds for a special project and then had community donations pour in to help with the costs.
“We had so many generous donations and are thankful to Geenex Solar, The Hicksville Bank, The Hicksville Beautification Committee, Arc Solutions, Jim Schmidt Family of Dealerships and the Defiance County commissioners,” Bland said. “Also, we are thankful to Collins and Guilford Wealth Advisors for lending us their wall and trusting our vision and process.”
Officials say they would encourage any community thinking about a mural to do it.
“Go for it,” urged Mack, adding “Art is a need in any community and will only make us stronger.”
“It is so worth it when you see the finished product,” Bland stressed.
Everyone is encouraged to come to Defiance County and see the beautiful murals and what the county has to offer.
“It looks amazing when you come into town,” gushed Bland. “We hope that it will encourage people to stop and take a picture and then walk the town and discover all that Hicksville has to offer.”
“Art adds interest to an area,” said Mack. “It makes an area inviting, welcoming and inspiring. It creates a community full of culture and has the potential to deepen community engagement.”
(Below Pictures: Defiance Murals are located in an alleyway between Second and Third streets)