By Wayne Allen
The documentary Beyond These Walls, which chronicles the story of the Portsmouth floodwall murals, has gotten some recent attention and has even sparked a conversation in some communities about the role of art.
In 2014, the Public Broadcast System (PBS) station WOSU-TV in Columbus, OH premiered the documentary film produced by Dr. John Lorentz and his son Nathan.
Lorentz explained that since WOSU aired Beyond These Walls it has been made available to PBS Stations across the United States. He said a number of stations from across the nation have been showing the film.
Lorentz said Beyond These Walls is about building community through public art.
“It tells a story in which the major theme is the role that public art has to play in developing a sense of community. We’re really looking at the interaction of the community and viewers with the wall,” Lorentz said. “Part of that story is how did this (Portsmouth murals) come into creation. How do you take a blank piece of concrete and turn it into something beautiful that people react to and are connected to in some way.”
After viewing the film, officials in Mansfield, Ohio invited John and Nathan to their community for a public screening of the film.
“Nathan and I are going to Mansfield this weekend, where there’s going to be a community showing of Beyond These Walls,” Lorentz said. “We’re going to stick around after the screening and talk with people in the community. They are interested in getting some thoughts and ideas together to jump start some things in Mansfield.”
Lorentz said part of that conversation will be centered around having the arts play a bigger role in that community.
“This all came about from the showing on WOSU. This seems to be a theme, because I’m in touch with three other communities around the country about them doing something similar,” Lorentz said.
He said that many communities are interested in screening the documentary, including California, Louisiana, and New York; all of which came from the national PBS showing of the film.
“There are some interesting things going on. We’ve clearly struck a responsive chord, because every community in one way or another is trying to reinvent itself. The example here is something people are responding to,” Lorentz said.
Lorentz acknowledged the film has started a conversation in many communities about the role art in community revitalization.
Copies of Beyond these walls are available at the Scioto County Welcome Center Gift Shop for purchase.
For more information about Beyond these walls, visit www.floodwallfilm.org.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT