Last updated: July 25. 2013 9:18AM - 559 Views
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Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

Dr. John Lorentz and his son Nathan of Lorentz Productions have finished production on a documentary that will be released this fall featuring the story of the Portsmouth Floodwall Murals.

According to a statement of purpose for the film, the documentary will highlight the, “development of the Portsmouth Floodwall Murals and the role the murals play in Scioto County. Many communities along the Ohio are struggling to reinvent themselves amidst difficult economic times. This video will serve as an example of how a local river community can come together and utilize the power of art, history and creative thinking to redefine and revitalize itself.”

John Lorentz said original music for the film is currently being composed by Mikael Jacobson of Los Angeles. Jacobson also composed the original music for the documentary “River Voices”, a previous documentary produced by Lorentz Productions.

“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 is the interaction of the community and viewers with the wall,” John 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 connect to in someway.”

He said those questions are addressed over the course of the film along with many others.

“What comes across very strongly is that there is a sense of ownership of the community with the paintings. It’s beautiful painting and great art but, it’s much more than that and that’s really what the film is about,” John Lorentz said.

He said a title for the film has yet to be chosen, but is expected to be chosen in the near future.

According to the documentary synopsis, “Seventeen years ago, Portsmouth, Ohio embarked on a daring experiment: A small group of leaders in the community asked, ‘How can we create pride in our community, stimulate the local economy, and transform a dying part of town back into the vibrant place it once was?’ The answer, they believed, was found in a powerful combination of public art, history and a previously drab landmark that had been part of the town for more than half a century.

Over a period of 10 years, more than 2000 feet of floodwall were transformed into large and colorful murals. The once abandoned part of town became a meeting place for many and a variety of businesses began moving closer to the river. The drab concrete wall was transformed into a source of historical preservation, tourism, economic development and community pride.”

When asked if there was anything that surprised him through the process of filming the documentary John Lorentz said, “It was much more difficult to do than anticipated because we wanted to do something which was a universal story. It’s not just sort of a document of a particular work of art in a particular town but that it would speak to people more universally.”

He said they were aiming at producing this documentary similar to “River Voices”, which documents the 1937 flood locally.

“It’s local history, that people anywhere can look at and identify with because it really is a universal story of how individuals in communities cope with natural disasters,” John Lorentz said.

He said a premiere of the documentary has been scheduled for Nov. 2 at the Vern Riffe Center For the Arts.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.

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