A handball court wall in Lancaster City Reservoir Park was given a facelift earlier this week.
The park’s 16-by-20-foot cement block wall in the 800 block of East Orange Street was the site of a lot of graffiti, prompting neighbor and artist Heidi Leitzke to paint a mural there. .
“The wall faced neighbors and park visitors like a blank canvas, just waiting to be painted,” Leitzke said. “As a neighbor of the park, I considered the possibility of painting a fresco there because it is an effective way of deterring graffiti while beautifying the neighborhood.
Leitzke said she had never painted a mural before.
“But I knew we had to do something to come out of hibernation last year,” she said.
The wall seemed like a possibility, so Leitzke submitted a proposal to the city, which owns and maintains the wall. She also sent letters to neighbors and organized “chat times” at the park with them to gather comments and ideas.
An assistant professor of art at Millersville University, Leitzke received total funding of $ 2,500 for the project from various sources, including the City of Lancaster’s “Love Your Block” grant program, a community engagement grant. from the Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change at MU, and a Faculty Research Fellowship. Leitzke covers an additional $ 1,500 out of pocket.
Leitzke, 42, spent 80 hours painting the mural and completed it on Tuesday. Its aim was to celebrate nature, recreation and community spirit, using bright colors in a combination of flat shapes and sinuous lines.
“I wanted to include the community in the process to create a greater sense of belonging and help them feel invested in the project by adding some of their favorite things,” said Leitzke.
One of those favorite things, she said, were the red roses.
“We had a neighbor named Rose, who always sat on her porch and was the anchor of this neighborhood,” Leitzke said. “Rose passed away from cancer last year and it was a very sad time for everyone so I painted the roses red in her memory.
“In my paintings, I don’t try to capture an exact likeness of one place, but rather to reflect the spirit of life that we find in nature and the outdoors, the moments that connect us to each other. and to this place and remind us of the beauty and sanctuary of natural places, ”said Leitzke.
As she painted the mural, she hoped it would elicit a positive response from park visitors and neighborhood residents.
“I didn’t know what people’s reaction would be, but I just hoped they would find something new in my painting every time they looked,” said Leitzke. “Someone told me that the closer he got, the more there was to see… and that made sense to me.” I was delighted with the positive response from everyone.