PDT Staff Writer
If you have ever walked or driven past one of Portsmouth’s 55 murals and wondered about the history of that mural, unless you were on a guided tour you may have remained in the dark. Now, learning about each panel individually is as close as your cell phone.
Portsmouth Murals Inc., which operates the color history of Portsmouth, has a phone number anyone can call, which will give them an instant description of any of the murals as they pass by. That number is 740-621-8031. Elizabeth Blevins and Ann Sydnor of the Murals committee made the announcement at Wednesday’s Portsmouth Kiwanis Club meeting.
“The idea came from Barb and Will Burke, who did a tour in the Carolinas of a garden,” Sydnor said. “The company is called On Cell, and Barb and Will mentioned it to Chris Lute, who mentioned it at a Mural board meeting.”
Blevins said Ava Chaboudy, who, along with her husband, the late Dr. Louis Chaboudy, started the murals project, does an introduction and a closing while Chip Maillet takes the caller step by step through the history of each mural.
“It’s a much richer experience when you have someone telling you about each one of the murals, a little bit about the history behind each one, or even information about what (muralist) Robert (Dafford) went through to bring his vision together,” Blevins said. “So now we all have the opportunity to get that professional guided tour. You can listen to all 55, or just go through and pick the ones you want.”
Blevins said callers can, by pressing the number corresponding to the panel, hear about that particular mural.
Blevins said the committee is still working on a panel numbering system that can lead tourists from panel to panel, and suggestions are welcome as to how that can be accomplished. Blevins said some discussions have centered around better using the stands on the opposite side of the street.
In 1992, the idea for the Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals was born. Dafford, an internationally known muralist from Lafayette, La., was contracted for the project. The first mural was completed in 1993. The murals are arranged chronologically from east to west, starting with the depiction of the Mound Builders, who are ancestors of the Shawnee Indians. The series of murals are a visual history of the Portsmouth area. Subjects covered by the murals span the history of the area from the ancient mound building Adena and Hopewell cultures to modern sporting events and notable natives.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.