Artist Caroline Jardine, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Toledo in 2017, recently designed and completed a mural project intended to beautify abandoned homes on North Huron Street in the historic Vistula district, the Glass City’s first neighborhood.
The houses have good bones and may yet be rehabilitated. The project is intended to protect the homes from vandalism in hopes that a buyer may one day remodel them.Jardine’s mural consists of panels that cover the windows and doors of the structures. Each panel has a unique design that connects in color scheme and concept to the other panels.
The project was initiated by Reginald Temple, director and vice president of community development for First Federal Bank of the Midwest. Temple, a UToledo College of Arts and Letters alumnus who received a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2003, often partners with the Lucas County Land Bank on various projects.Temple said this mural is similar to other board-up projects the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission have done, like the one for the former residence of Art Tatum, Toledo’s legendary jazz pianist.
The Huron Street project was organized through the collaborative efforts of First Federal Bank of the Midwest, the Lucas County Land Bank and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo. First Federal Bank provided volunteers, plus lunches and restrooms for the volunteers. The Lucas County Land Bank provided the properties, and the Arts Commission commissioned an artist and provided the paint and boards.
Ryan Bunch, communications and outreach coordinator for the Arts Commission, asked Jardine to design 16 murals for the North Huron Street properties.
“I designed the panels so that they would function as individual pieces and as a whole,” Jardine said. “Lindsay Akens [creative place-making facilitator with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo] and Ryan Bunch showed the Vistula community members the designs and received their approval to move forward with the project.”Jardine added that her design was inspired by her own work and the houses themselves.
“I chose to include abstracted, minimalist figures that look out to the viewer,” she said. “The vacant houses are given character and life through these figures. The house at 1109 N. Huron was partially blue to begin with, so I brought in blue as one of the colors in this mural.”
Temple arranged for nearly 60 volunteers from his company to carry out the painting.
Jardine said she was impressed with the volunteers because they did so much more than paint: “The houses that the murals were installed on needed a lot of work. Volunteers cleared brush, mowed the lawns, picked up trash, pulled weeds, and cleaned the porches.”
Volunteers did some brushwork, too. Some of the large panels were four feet by eight feet.
“Once we finished priming each of the 16 panels, I outlined the designs and color-coded them so that the volunteers could begin painting them,” Jardine said. “We had two to three days of painting, one and a half days of touch-ups and detail work, and one and a half days of installation. Finally, we clear-coated the panels and installed them on the first floors of the houses.”
Three young girls from the neighborhood came by daily and watched as the project unfolded. Lindsay Akens and Liam Johnson of the Arts Commission suggested the scope of the project be increased so the girls could participate.
Jardine designed several additional panels to cover the basement windows for the girls to paint. Temple noted that the girls were thrilled to be included. “The excitement on their faces was phenomenal,” he said.
The houses are adjacent to each other at 1105 N. Huron and 1109 N. Huron St.