PORTSMOUTH — Looking for something to do outside and enjoy the beauty of some great artwork? Look no further, the Portsmouth Murals are just the place to visit, especially now, while the artist, Robert Dafford is finishing up some of the new murals before the weather turns.
The purpose of the floodwall mural project is to create an outdoor art gallery depicting the last two centuries of the history of Portsmouth Ohio and the surrounding area. Dr. Lou Chaboudy and his wife, Ava, came up with the idea for the Portsmouth Murals, Inc.(PMI) and it was formed as a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization. The dedication ceremony of this first mural was in May 1993. a view of Portsmouth in 1903, as seen from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River painted by Dafford.
Chris Lute, President of the Portsmouth Murals board, talked about the fact that Dafford had not been in Portsmouth for a few years due to the fact that he had broken his ankle and then after that, COVID hit. He painted in October 2018, what they had commissioned him to do.
“Robert returned now on Oct. 12 and he’s been painting up a storm and making good progress because the weather has been good,” Lute said.
Lute shared that Dafford is finishing the new music performers (their names below each image) on the outside wall of the Court Street landing and one of the most beautiful ones, the historical riverfront steamboat scene. Lute also talked about another important piece Dafford has been working on.
“When Bob Morton, my predecessor was still living, we all committed to doing a mural for the Wheelersburg Little League girls softball World Series champions, which was the first time any girls or boys team from here has won the World Series,” Lute said. “We decided we were going to put them on the wall and then all this other stuff happened with Robert and COVID, but Dafford is making good progress on that one.”
Lute also said that Dafford is adding some Major League Baseball players, one is Johnny LeMaster, who played for the San Fransico Giants for 10 years and is from Pike County, Ky, but he was born in Portsmouth. Another being added is Paul J. Archy from Greenup County, who was the Senior Vice President of Major League Baseball International and worked in the major league baseball system throughout the Far East and some of the other continents.
Just like so many other things affected by COVID, the annual baseball banquet had to be canceled for January 2021 and is to be rescheduled for January 2022.
“This is our main fundraiser for the year, so even with the endowment we hold on reserve to pay Dafford,” Lute said. “We still spend about $20,000 a year for them to be washed and repair anything that needs to be done, like the cracks and such. We are going to be reaching out to any table holders, friends of the murals, or if anyone is looking for their favorite charity, before the tax season is up, to send whatever they may want to share because we’re going to be short all that money we usually make from the banquet. Donations can be made to Portmouth Murals, Inc. P.O. Box 509 Portsmouth, Ohio 45662.
Robert Dafford of Lafayette, Louisiana, is the artist for the entire mural project. An internationally known muralist with more than 20 years’ experience, Dafford has created more than 200 murals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. The highlight of much of his work is a three-dimensional illusion such that viewers feel they can “step into” the painting, and this effect is shown in many of the Portsmouth murals.
Lute became the president of the Murals after Morton died in 2019, but he had served as vice president under Morton before that.
Anyone who is unable to go out and visit the Portsmouth Murals, they now have on their website, an app that you can download on your iPad or iPhone and it has the exquisite murals and a write up about each one. It is worth the visit even though you cannot see the new ones yet. Remember that according to Lute, the Portsmouth Murals which is a 501C3 organization, could use your help this year and any donation will be appreciated.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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