Strasburg gets first public mural

Ann Lewis, of Brooklyn, New York, paints a mural on the wall outside of Pot Town Organics in Strasburg on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Next to the Strasburg Community Library, the town’s first public outdoor mural has added some color to the streetscape from the outside wall of Pot Town Organics.

Daniel Lefkowitz and Daniel Stover coordinated the canvas on business owners Janet and Ron Heishman’s building with Brooklyn-based artist Ann Lewis (also known as gilf!), who created the design after learning about the location and seeing photos from Stover. The mural resembles a maze, and a word that reflects its location near the garden and library is hidden within.

“We kind of wanted it to be interesting in terms of reflecting on the library and sort of this wealth of knowledge that’s kind of sitting here waiting for people to interact with it,” Lewis said.

Lewis has created more than 20 murals, many of them in and around the New York area. She began working on the Strasburg mural last week after a quick turnaround time getting approval from town officials.

“I think it’s really important to put art in places that people don’t expect it,” she said. “Small towns deserve to have art too, it’s not just major cities – and I find the people here are far more appreciative of it than people in Brooklyn.”

Passers-by have offered to fetch food or coffee for her and the others working on the mural, and Stover said that financial and volunteer support from the community has been outstanding thus far.

“We started a fundraiser and this has actually been funded, essentially, by the citizens of Strasburg,” he said.

Their Indiegogo fundraiser, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/pv6wc8n, has already surpassed its initial $700 goal. Further funds will help contribute to Stover and Lefkowitz’s vision of creating more, similar opportunities for public art within the town.

Since the winter weather will make creation of new murals difficult, Stover said they will spend that time working on setup of an artist residency and coordinating with building owners to create new canvases for artists.

“We’re hoping to build off of this,” he said. “We’d like to start making it a thing in town, which we think will really help the town hopefully in terms of foot traffic and attracting people here.”

“Just from working on this the last week, too, the response of everybody that’s come by has been amazingly positive,” Lefkowitz added. “Everybody seems to be really excited about it; they love to look at it and see it happen.”

It’s not just random passers-by who have shown their appreciation, either. An art class from Strasburg High School visited the in-progress mural on Monday, inquiring about the mural’s message and Lewis’s life as a working artist in Brooklyn – where she said many public schools lack funding for art programs.

“I was just happy to kind of come and help them start a buzz and see what else we can bring to the town,” she said. “Public art is a really important aspect of what I do as an artist; it’s important for me to create work that people can see that aren’t necessarily walking into a museum or a gallery.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com