RIO GRANDE — The Welsh spirit is alive and well in the Village of Rio Grande, and a new beautification project recently completed within the village will serve as a prominent reminder of the pride in heritage kept by the residents of the small college town.
The project, a mural located on a retaining wall across from the Rio Grande Post Office on Ohio 325, was the brainchild of Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter and was designed and recently completed by University of Rio Grande art students.
According to Easter, earlier this year, he approached University of Rio Grande Associate Professor of Art Benjy Davies about the idea of a Welsh-themed mural.
“I challenged Benjy Davies … I said, ‘I would like to do something, kind of a funky and fresh painting, a modern look along that entire wall’ … and one of the rules that I laid out to them was it has to be themed around the Welsh dragon because of the history of Rio Grande being mostly Welsh,” Easter said. “It’s a modern art take on the Welsh flag, it’s the use of the Welsh dragon.”
Davies oversaw the project and, based upon the design of art student Justin Francisco, the wall was completed by fellow art students Elizabeth Hamilton and Emalea Neal over a weekend in September.
According to Easter, the project was funded by the remainder of the village’s beautification budget for 2011, as well as through donations by the University of Rio Grande’s Madog Center for Welsh Studies and Sherwin Williams paint.
“It’s really different, it’s really new-looking … [and] we’re really proud of how this turned out,” Easter said.
Lucy Thomas, a Welsh exchange student currently studying at the University of Rio Grande, commented that the new mural, as well as other efforts the village and university make to enrich the Welsh heritage of the area, provide a home-like environment for the Welsh students during their stay in Rio Grande.
“It was a really nice surprise when Matt came to the Madog Center and told us it was going to happen,” Thomas said.”With all the flags around the University of Rio Grande anyway, it’s just wonderful, and it gives the Welsh spirit to the university and to the community; and the wall just adds that the little quirkiness to the university and makes me feel at home when I pass it.”