In latest Strasburg mural, South African artist focuses on Pot Town history

STRASBURG — About two years ago, Wesley van Eeden had a request. The South African artist, who goes by the pseudonym Resoborg, wanted to be hired to paint a mural in Strasburg. He had heard about Staufferstadt Arts, the organization that has sought out artists to paint murals in Strasburg’s downtown, through a blog post. […]

STRASBURG — About two years ago, Wesley van Eeden had a request. The South African artist, who goes by the pseudonym Resoborg, wanted to be hired to paint a mural in Strasburg.

He had heard about Staufferstadt Arts, the organization that has sought out artists to paint murals in Strasburg’s downtown, through a blog post. He thought the small town would be ideal for a new location to paint a mural.

“When I was looking about where I wanted to go next, I honed in on the places that felt like they made a big impact in terms of art and the community,” he said. “And it was definitely in smaller areas.”

On Friday, Resoborg was finishing up his latest mural, in the back of the Little Italy restaurant on Massanutten Street.

Daniel Stover, one of the founders of Staufferstadt Arts, said that Resoborg was not the first person to contact the organization seeking to paint a mural in downtown Strasburg. But he was the first, Stover said, who met the caliber of work the organization, which has brought in artists from across the country and now internationally, was looking for.

“He’s of the level,” Stover said. “He’s traveled the world and done work. He’s a high-caliber artist.”

Daniel Lefkowitz, the other founder of the organization, added that Resoborg fit their model of a new artist for the organization. He has painted bright-colored murals that fit into their communities, Lefkowitz said.

Lefkowitz said that Resoborg also delves into the histories of the communities he portrays, something that was particularly apparent in Strasburg’s case.

For his painting in Strasburg, Resoborg focused on the town’s history as “Pot Town,” painting a mural loosely based off a photograph he saw of a late-19th-century Strasburg potter.

By the time he came to paint the Strasburg mural, Stover said, “he [knew] more about the history of the town than I do.”

“He’s read everything that’s possible to get ahold of, as far as I can tell,” Stover said.

John Adamson, the vice president of the Strasburg Museum, who guided Resoborg through the town’s pottery history, said he thought the photograph was of Samuel Sonner but wasn’t certain.

The man painted in the mural exhibited the same mustache as Sonner, Resoborg explained.

“It doesn’t look like him exactly, but it was inspired” by Sonner, he said.

Resoborg also added into the painting a blank pot. Adamson showed Resoborg the pot during a tour of the Strasburg Museum and explained that the pot was part of a rare trend among Strasburg potters during the late 19th century.

The potters would keep these pots blank, rather than the more common, painted pots, so the people purchasing them could paint the pots themselves.

That struck Resoborg as a nice metaphor of the opportunities lying within the town.

“In a subtle way, [it celebrates] the maker, the individual, like a local brewery or a local musician,” he said.