GROVE CITY – The mural project at the Grove City YMCA is more than halfway done and exceeding expectations.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Chris Bauer.

Bauer and Amanda DiAlesandro teach the Community Art Class at Grove City High School, which started the five-panel mural in 2017.

DiAlesandro said she hopes the mural becomes a landmark for Grove City, and she has enjoyed seeing the “masterpiece” come together.

“It was overwhelming in the best possible way,” she said of the addition of the most recent panels.

Each panel is made up of 24 canvases, and the paintings are based on photographs. The drawings are sketched onto the canvas and done in a “paint-by-number” style, making it easy for anyone to participate.

Students and community members have helped share the workload, and the project has come together nicely, Bauer said.

The first panel shows the former YMCA building on Erie Street, following a “history” theme.

The second one has a “youth development” theme – a young girl reading to two children at the YMCA.

The third panel is based on a photo taken by student Claire Lightner, who selected a “healthy living” theme. It shows a group of people at the YMCA pool.

“Swimming is a big part of Grove City,” said Claire, who has worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor, and was a member of the school’s swim team.

Claire, 16, recently moved to the Cochranton area, and she’s very happy with how the “healthy living” painting turned out. She also helped with the second panel.

It features shades of purple, gray, white and black. It took two days to adhere to the outer wall of the YMCA, and it’s been varnished to provide protection from the elements.

“It was breathtaking,” she said of the moment she stepped back to take a look at the finished piece. It was installed in June.

Claire traced the pictures onto canvas, did some painting, and helped coordinate painting sessions for the public.

“I think they’ve all turned out incredible,” she said.

She hopes to return to Grove City to help with the remaining two panels. 

As each panel progresses, the Community Art Class gets more help. The second panel was completed by students, residents, Girl Scout Troop 36642, YMCA childcare staff, Grove City High School teachers, and school district administrators, Bauer said.

“We got so much work done. It was really remarkable,” he said.

Claire did a great job spearheading the “healthy living” panel, which was opened up to high school students during the new “lunch and learn” period.

“We had over 100 students working on painting the third mural,” he said.

The fourth panel will include shades of green, and the picture is still in development. It will focus on “social responsibility,” like volunteer work or even the start of the Y itself. 

The final panel, which will be placed in the middle of the mural, will be some kind of collage. Each panel must be approved by the Y’s advisory board.

“It’s gonna tie them all together,” Bauer said.

He wants students to take the lead on the two panels, and he’s planning on opening it up to more community members by hosting paint sessions outside of his classroom.

“We want to have more people involved,” he said.

The class hopes to finish the mural this school year. Bauer and DiAlesandro said they’re thankful for support from the YMCA, community and the school district.

The project has been challenging but rewarding, and a great way to bring people together.

“It says a lot about our community and the YMCA,” he said.

It’s fun to think about everyone who has been and will be part of this project, said DiAlesandro. That includes her 6-year-old son Hunter, who has painted the panels a few times.

Many participants have discovered that art is fun and relaxing, and not as hard as it looks. When everything is complete, there will be a celebration.

DiAlesandro hopes that people take the time to check out the mural, which she said means a lot because of all of the people who helped create it.

The last two panels installed are not yet varnished along the bottom. Participants are invited to sign their names from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.

The Community Art Class has been busy with a few other projects. Student Becca Krenzer is finishing a mural in the high school cafeteria; the theme is “Choose Kindness.”

Student Alex Shilling is working on a mural for the middle school. It will be located near the main entrance and feature an eagle soaring over the building as part of the school’s “positive behavior” initiative.

For more information about the YMCA mural project, contact Chris Bauer at chris.bauer@gcasdk12.org or 724-458-5456, extension 2300.

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