UTICA — Celebrating its 200th birthday this year, the village of Utica is honoring its past and present, as well as planning for the future.
To remind folks of the way it was, the Bicentennial Committee and the Masons have commissioned three murals depicting scenes of historic Utica. One shows a livery stable from the 19th century and another shows a train going through town in about 1910. The other is a 1925 view of the village’s downtown. The finished work will adorn the north side of the Masons’ building on Main Street.
Taylor Leaman is the artist who took on the challenge. A senior fine arts major at Columbus College of Arts and Design, with a concentration in painting, Leaman said doing the murals “has been an interesting experience.”
“I went into it knowing nothing,” he said. “I’ve never done anything like this — mural-sized, or panels like this to be displayed outside.”
The first step, he said, was choosing the historical photographs which would serve as the subject matter for the paintings. The Bicentennial Committee visited the historical society and searched through hundreds of old photographs of Utica, then, with Leaman, chose the final three to capture the character of the village.
Working from those pictures, Leaman transferred each scene to plywood panels. Each panel is 4-by-8-foot, and each painting takes up four panels.
“When I started,” Leaman said, “I was using two panels at a time, then I got to the point where I would just stick them all together. They won’t be separated when we hang them.”
The panels were prepared with regular Kilv’s primer, and Leaman used sepia tones to duplicate the images on the photos. The medium employed is acrylic latex exterior house paint.
That was a challenge, Leaman said.
“I usually don’t work with acrylic latex,” he explained. “It’s a whole different process. I usually work in oil, and my typical subject matter is of people. I have done a lot of figurative work rather than landscapes. Also, I’ve never done anything close to this size before.”