BAINBRIDGE — Work is nearly complete on a mural celebrating the culture and history of one of the oldest settlements in Chenango County.
The hand-painted mural spans more than 100 feet on the side of the Tepco Truck and Equipment Painting Company on East Main Street, across from the village department of public works facility and just before the bridge carrying state Route 206 over the Susquehanna River.
“Welcome to historic Bainbridge,” reads the sign across the street. “Established 1786; home of Elmer’s Glue since 1947.”
“If someone was driving by and didn’t know what Bainbridge was about, they could get a glimpse,” said Christopher Lloyd Wright, one of the artists commissioned for the project. “It’s more than just a sleepy little town.”
The panorama features an idyllic dairy farm, the finish line at the annual General Clinton Canoe Regatta, a performance at the bandstand and a street scene depicting the village’s annual Summer Fest, bookended by portraits of an Iroquois man and woman, a tribute to the tribes that first occupied the area.
Wright said he spends two days a week working on the mural, and after five weeks has just about finished laying out the background colors and is working on adding details to the scenes, which he said takes just as long.
“It’s based on a few drawings, some things from memory and making things up as I go,” he said.
An Afton resident, Wright said he works as a feed salesman at McDowell & Walker, Inc. in Sidney, but accepts art commissions on the side, mostly for portraits, and is producing a few book covers for a friend.
Kim Knapp-Moravcik, of Nineveh, she paints “little things here and there” throughout Afton Central School, where she works as a cleaner, but she is not a trained artist.
“My father was a painter, and I used to copy paintings he did in school,” she said. “I’ve always liked art.”
The paints were donated by Golden Artist Colors of New Berlin, and the project is sponsored by the Bainbridge Chamber of Commerce, according to Nancy Kitchen, one of the project organizers.
“The chamber is really proactive about growing the community through art, people coming together and through business,” she said.
“One of the things that makes a difference is community support,” she continued. “That makes something like this happen.”
Village Mayor Phil Wade secured a grant from the Chenango Arts Council to finance the project, Kitchen said, and the Hacker family, who owns the building, recently installed new gutters to help protect the mural.
“We have a tremendous depth of talent in our region that’s often unseen by the community at large,” Kitchen said. “The mural gives everyone a chance to come together and celebrate the art.”
Knapp-Moravcik recalled a day she was working on the mural when she was approached by an elderly gentleman who she said gave her a hug and thanked her for “making the town beautiful.”
The project also allows young people to see art as a valuable part of the community, Kitchen said.
“Children learn to draw before they can read or write,” she said. “Art is a part of learning.”
Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.