Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 13, 2013

Mercer St. project to cover blight with area artists’ murals

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Local artists are hoping a new project will help demonstrate the area’s creativity while covering up a blight on the downtown area.

The city of Princeton’s Board of Zoning Appeals will be gathering at the municipal building at 6 p.m. on Aug. 15 to hear a proposal to turn a Mercer Street alleyway into a work of art.  Lori McKinney, organizer of the Princeton “Artists’ Alley” project, said if approved the project will involve the painting of several murals in the alley between 940 block of Mercer Street.

“We have to have the hearing to get a variance and approval due to the city’s sign ordinance,” McKinney said. “There is some ugly graffiti in that area, and we were hoping to do something to turn that area into something positive. The idea originated when I was performing in Knoxville, Tenn. In the alleyway behind the venue there was a beautiful series of murals that people were coming from all over to see. The artist who did it said they painted the wall with a base coat and sectioned the walls off. Each artists got a section and was allowed to paint something.”

McKinney said she felt the project was ideal to replicate in downtown Princeton.

“We thought it would be great for Mercer Street,” sh-e said. “We are hoping to get some local artists interested. Each artists gets a section and they can paint whatever they want as long as it isn’t vulgar. We want something beautiful and positive for our city.”

McKinney said she is hoping the “Artists’ Alley” project will coincide with Autumnfest, but preparation still needs to be done.

“For now, we want design submissions in by the first Monday in September,” McKinney said. “We will have a committee to select designs we think are best for the project. Each artist will get a section that is 4 feet wide and 6 feet high. There will be about 15 sections all together. We will have more details about the project available as we get closer to time. We want the designs to be bright and positive. People can submit a general mock-up of their ideas or a full scale representation of what they are going to do.”

Anyone can apply to leave their mark on the wall, McKinney said.

“It is open to anyone of all ages,” she said. “Artists under the age of 12 do need an adult to help supervise their project. It will be free to the artists participating. We will be providing supplies like paint, but if an artist wants to bring their own brushes or supplies, we are open to that as well. We are hoping to invite the community to come watch as all of the artists descend on the area.”

McKinney said anyone interested in the project can call 304-320-8833 for more information.

— Contact Kate Coil at