Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Schoolkids brighten underpass with mural

Aspiring artists: Lots of paint, lots of fun

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - Sarah Williams and her friends have some advice for aspiring artists. Don't worry, they say. Be free.

"If you think you're going to mess up, you're going to get freaked out and drop your paint," says Sarah, 10.

She knows this because every Friday from 2 to 5 p.m. she and about 12 classmates stand at the corner of 17th and Scott streets, industriously painting a mural on a concrete wall.

Leading the kids in the project are Covington artist Peter Jaquish and Matt Eckerle, their art teacher from 6th District Elementary School.

Jaquish has worked with several groups of schoolchildren on murals throughout the city. With their input, he designs the scene and sketches it in. Then the children apply the paint, with lots of it landing on their fingers and faces.

"I'm having a lot of fun with it," says Kyle Huff, 10, from atop a ladder, where he was adding strokes of brown to a patriotic mural featuring a bald eagle, a purple mountain, the American flag and the Statue of Liberty.

"It's creative," says Kyle. "Also, some of my friends who go to Two Rivers (Middle School), they don't get out till 3, so it gives me something to do. Also, I like Mr. Eckerle."

The boyish-looking art teacher is known for bestowing a nickname on every one of his students. Kyle, for instance, is called Kung Fu Larry, after a cartoon character, because he once wore a Ninja outfit for Halloween.

Last Friday, the children's work drew the attention of Jenni Woodruff, who owns a bed-and-breakfast in the Wallace Woods neighborhood. She was so impressed by their efforts that she showed up with lemonade and cookies to thank them.

The kids aren't shy about altering the appearance of a public thoroughfare. If somebody doesn't like their work, well. ...

"I really don't care, because it's my art, and I'm trying to express myself," says Destinee Brown, 10, waving her brush in the air for emphasis.

Right, Sarah says. Her words of encouragement for a beginning artist: "You did it. Nobody else did. You be proud of yourself."


E-mail kgutierrez@enquirer.com

Pulfer: After 50 years, what makes Jack Gilligan run?
Korte: Inside City Hall

Ashcroft issues get-tough policy
Friends mourn teen
Archbishop suspends 3 priests
Challengers take swats at city development effort
Savings to begin on drugs
Wet spring may mean bright fall
Now her daddy is home to stay
Miami worker strike delayed
Water park's theme: Australia
Colerain plans for floods
Work on aquatic center begins
Family seeking Down awareness
St. John plans reunion
Vietnam vets' wall to go on display
Regional Report

N.Ky. counties want a jail break
Another lifestyle center coming
Schoolkids brighten underpass with mural
Wilder complex considers new pool
Turtle weathers Isabel
Evansville diocese workers undergoing background checks
Former House Speaker Joe Clarke found dead
Feds: Crash that killed three could have been avoided

Joseph Luebbers, 81, was municipal judge
Geraldine Sutyak took joy in music