Some small, but mighty, improvements have been for one of Portsmouth’s greatest investments, the Portsmouth Murals Incorporated floodwall murals.
The group has been dedicated and steadfast in their efforts of covering our massive, unsightly floodwall with colorful depictions of the area’s rich history by artist Robert Dafford. Not only by painting the floodwall, but also balancing the massive expense of constant upkeep; the floodwall is one of the largest outdoor art collections by any one artist in the world.
Recently, however, the group has been investing in something new and improved: marketing and guidance.
According to Butch Stall, member of Portsmouth Murals Incorporated (PMI), the group has been excitedly working on wayfinding and educational projects, in partnership with the Scioto Foundation and Appalachia Regional Commission (ARC), as well as new design elements that encompass the floodwall art installation.
Most notably to date are signs that guide people from Washington and eastern Front Street towards the murals themselves. In addition to that, one of the signs serves as a sort of informational kiosk with smart technology assistants in guiding tourists and locals along the story of the murals.
“It [the floodwall murals] really is this great thing, like a national monument, but we had this little, old, folksy sign. I just didn’t feel like it did the murals justice. I felt like we needed something more, I guess grandeur sounds like the right word,” Stall explained.
There are two new signs in total and Stall claimed that they feel more appropriate.
“Also, we looked for signage that would best meet the streetscape of Boneyfiddle— something that is going to go along with the benches, trash receptacles and the bike racks—and I feel these signs do that,” Butch continued. “The other thing was that we wanted to tie in our logo with Portsmouth Murals. I couldn’t believe how well the fabricator was able to do it in our appropriate colors. I just love that.
Stall said that local fabricator, Falcon Fabrication, out of Minford, created the signs and they won the bid fairly after a campaign of searching for the right company.
The signs have imagery that pay tribute to the river and bridge and have all sorts of informational bits. Additionally, they have hooks on the poles so that event banners can be placed between the poles. Stall said that they will be using them for their events, and they will be made available for area groups hosting events.
“One is more of a directional sign that tells people where the murals are, but you can see it as far as Sixth Street,” Stall said. “The other one, however, steers people towards our app and website with links and a QR code, but we still have the telephone number people can dial if they aren’t tech savvy.”
A big part of the new guidance system includes a partnership with a company called StQRy, which is helping guide people towards historically relevant sources, either through the PMI website or other websites related to the content of the mural, such as TOSRV.
“We’ve made edits and changes through the apps, because you can not only open it and have the mobile tour, but it includes a button that guides you to the website, so tourists can go back and forth.”
Stall explained that this method makes it easier for educating people on large-scale murals with many people being paid tribute, such as the sports murals and musician mural.
“You just can’t put all of those names on the informational kiosks, but we can now guide them to the website,” Stall said.
The kiosks themselves are also being revamped with new posts for the storyboards. Stall explained that the legs are ornate and are currently being finalized and will consist of nearly 20 new setups. In addition to that, they are going to be installed in large concrete pads that will eliminate weeds and protect from mowers, much like they did with the new signs.
The group is also adding new storyboard kiosks to murals currently without, including those on the outside of the floodwall and the baseball mural.
Stall says the work is always ongoing and he believes the murals will continue to represent a rich heritage and community history.
“The Portsmouth Floodwall Murals represent a legacy that has been the vanguard for economic development and the rebirth of the Boneyfiddle District of Portsmouth, Ohio,” Stall explained. “The importance of preserving this historic outdoor art gallery is key to promoting the development of new businesses, maintaining the communities cultural and recreational resources, increasing tourism and community involvement by improving and maintaining a unique, historic, and artistic heritage site for the city. That is why we must care for the murals themselves, but work on guiding people to the murals in a way that stands out and complements the murals, just like how the new asphalt frames and defines the murals even more.”