By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV
For years, Tanya Hazelwood asked the previous owner of the building on the corner of Edgar Avenue and Frankford Road if she could draw a mural on the exterior wall. She envisioned a large mural that would tell the city’s story and welcome folks to town. Every time she asked, she was told no.
Then the City of Ronceverte bought the building in 2022, and City Councilwoman Tonya Hazelwood again offered to paint her dream mural.
“They agreed, and I’m so excited,” says Tanya. “It’s not done yet, but people really seem to like it so far!”
Tanya is not only a city council member, but she is also a well-known local artist and downtown business owner (Wild Child). Her passion for the city and public art is contagious.
And she’s the first to say the mural was a team effort.
“Josh & Mike Hanway painted the blue and green parts first,” she explains. “Isaiah Mattox, a high school student, and his teacher Kristi Caraway helped me map out the grid I used to space out the letters. And Brian Baker, another teacher at Greenbrier East, made my original template for the grid.”
The “grid” she’s referring to is the magic behind mural. If you look closely, you can see the grid drawn in chalk on the mural. It maps out the wall in a grid which allowed Hazelwood to space the letters in “Ronceverte” appropriately.
“The grid took me three says,” she says. “I had issues getting it level at first. Eventually we broke out the chalk box, slapped the chalk lines up, and the grid came together.”
The mural came together in five stages, with the last stage still in process. First, the Hanways painted the green and blue base. Second, Tanya added the clouds in the sky. Third, she added the shades of green to the base. Fourth, she added the “Ronceverte” letters one-by-one using spray paint. Fifth, she is now in the process of adding a sun and river.
“Originally, the letters were going to have paintings inside each one with things from town,” she says, “but people really like the simplicity of it, so we made a change. I want to add the sun and river, and maybe some greenbrier, just to give it more color and depth.”
Mayor Deena Pack is thrilled with the new mural. “The city is lucky to have a great artist like Tanya Hazelwood on city council,” she adds. “We had a vision and she’s turned it into an amazing mural that everyone can enjoy for years to come!”
Not done yet
Tanya took two days off from work and worked 12 hours each day to get the letters done last week before the rains returned.
“I was exhausted!” she admits. “But I knew people would be looking at it and wanted it to look good.”
Tanya says she is her own biggest critic. “When I look at my own work, I just see what is wrong with it.” And she wants to go back and get every detail just right with some touch-up work on the letters and remove the grid.
“My satisfaction comes from seeing people enjoy it,” she says. “So far, people really seem to enjoy it.”
Mayor Pack adds that this is just one of several beautification projects the city is working on currently. Stay tuned to The Real WV for updates.