What if she combined her love for the Greenway and public art into a community project?
She considered the thought. Cultivated a plan. Watched as the idea grew into a dream.
The approval of the Greenway board to permit a mural on the 20th Street underpass has almost made her dream a reality.
Now she needs the help of community volunteers, Thursday through Saturday, to get a head start on the project.
“I really like community-based projects,” Barks said. “Cleveland is a great community. I knew it was something my kids would like to do. It is just fun.”
Barks specifically created a painting last spring for the project. The background is split between a blue sky with criss-crossing clouds and a green field. The foreground is also split into two sections. Across the top is a little, blue bird perched on a flower and holding a ribbon with the words, “Let Love Grow” written in cursive. The lower half of the foreground has four types of flowers reaching toward the sky among tall grass.
The overall effect is exactly what Barks intended: colorful, joyous, vibrant and inspirational.
“I was on a run in the spring and I was just thinking about what I wanted it to look like and what I wanted to convey,” she said. “I was just thinking about really bright flowers and a happy little bird. I hope to hide a few things, like a bumble bee, for kids to find.”
Barks hopes everyone from kids to adults will want to be a part of the project.
Volunteers are needed this week.
- Thursday, June 12: older kids, teenagers and adults are needed to prime the underpass starting at 6 p.m.
- Friday, June 13: painting the background starting at 2 p.m.
Barks said she would really like to have a lot of kids for this portion of the volunteer effort.
“It would be great to stagger volunteers with the arrivals at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. I find with kids, particularly young ones, an hour is about as long as they can paint before they lose interest,” she said. “If your family would like to come, please let me know what time will work best. Any age can come paint. This should be fun and messy — in a good way.”
Barks created the background to be deliberately messy so individuals of all ages and capabilities could jump on board.
- Saturday, June 14: actual painting in progress. This will be the first day of painting the various pieces in the mural. Barks has set up staggered volunteer times for 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Those who have experience painting designs, pictures, murals, etc. will excel in this portion, according to Barks.
Those interested in volunteering can email Barks at Jaime@barksblog.com. In the event of inclement weather, the project will be moved to next week. Volunteers can get updates from Barks by emailing her.
She said she hopes this becomes a piece of the community children can look back on as they grow and remember the time they contributed to the project.
Fostering a love for public art at the same time is also a plus.
“I just love the idea of public art. A lot of people are never going to go into a gallery or go into a museum, but almost everyone at one point will see a public art piece,” she said. “I am just very much of the opinion that art should be enjoyed by everybody.”
Added Barks, “Maybe someone in the community will see [the mural] and hopefully be inspired. Or, just have their day brightened.”
Barks will spend next week on a semi-solo mission to refine the mural before it is finished.
Aside from the public art aspect, Barks’ purpose for the mural is threefold.
“I think it is just a good community piece to bring people together and to bring exposure to the Greenway. I genuinely love the Greenway,” she said. “It is a huge part of [my family’s] lives and my life as a runner. I think it is the greatest thing to happen to Cleveland in forever.
“The other part is just helping to bring the awareness to the art … and expose people to a different form of art. So, like, this is art, but it is not a piece in a museum or gallery. It is something you can teach and see and enjoy.”
Added Barks, “And, of course, just the happy message of love and joy.”