Florence enjoys patriotic mural of its own

A patriotic American-flag mural for a building in the town of Florence was a topic of discussion between Rick Turner, owner of Florence Market, and friends only one week before a flag was painted on a building in Marion.

“I know a lady named Hazel Clothier, and she came into the market and said, ‘What are you going to do with your wall down here?'” Turner said. “I said we had talked about painting a mural on it, and she said, ‘I’ll pay for it.'”

Turner told her he would put some plans together, but he didn’t want her to pay for the project.

Three weeks later, the town of Florence has a patriotic flag mural, about 37 feet high and 75 feet long, painted on the side of Turner’s building next to Veterans Park.

Barbara Chavez from Hillsboro, the same artist who painted the mural for Marion, was hired to paint the Florence mural, a job that took about one week to complete.

When the project first started, Turner and his friends looked through several photos until they fell upon their favorite image of a bald eagle incorporated into the folds of the American flag.

“I asked her if she could paint that one on the wall, and she said she’d never painted anything that big,” Turner said.

“I think the one in Marion is half again as big as this one,” he said.

But Chavez agreed to paint the large mural for the small town of 650 inhabitants.

The initial painting was taken directly from the chosen image which was the middle section of a flag.

“It took up about 60 percent of the wall,” Turner said. “Well, we stood back and said, ‘That’s not enough,’ so we went ahead and expanded the picture and did the whole wall.”

Five scaffolds weren’t sufficient to reach the top of the building, which prompted the local owner of a Florence machine shop to donate a bucket truck to hoist Chavez up to a height of 40 feet, Turner said.

“There used to be a hotel next to my building, and they tore it down a few years ago and re-did the wall,” Turner said.

“It was a ‘party’ wall so it converted back to us when the hotel was gone. They did a good job of doing the wall so we didn’t have a lot of preparation work to do.”

Thirty gallons of $30-a-gallon paint was used because Turner said he felt quality paint would ensure better maintenance on the wall in the future.

Paint rollers were initially used, but they proved difficult because the blocks of the building wall were so deep.

The solution was a Wagner Power Painter, borrowed from another local retailer, so Chavez could spray the paint on.

The total cost of the mural, paid upon completion by Turner, was $2,500.

But the community wanted to help with the finances and has donated $1,800 to date to help defray costs.

“I didn’t have any idea whether I’d get any help on it or not,” Turner said. “I’ve had people come in (to the market) and hand me a check for $100 and say, ‘If you need more, let me know.'”

The local chamber of commerce donated $500, and the largest check from an individual has been $200.

“I told Hazel, ‘We’ll get all the donations in, and whatever’s left, you and me will just split,’ and she was agreeable to that,” Turner said.

Turner also contacted the manufacturer of the Wagner Power Painter in Minneapolis, Minn.

“We e-mailed them a picture of what we did, and a lady there e-mailed us back and said they were excited about this, and what did we want out of it,” Turner said.

His response was to ask them to come to Florence and do a commercial, but he also thought a donation for playground equipment for the park would be nice.

A figure of $30,000 was mentioned to the Wagner representative, and she responded that she would see what she could do, Turner said.

In addition to hoping for a donation from Wagner for playground equipment, Turner said he wants to put spotlights in the area to light up the wall.

He said he already has permission from the city to move an existing flag pole, originally installed in 1971, closer to the wall.

“That way we can run a flag up it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, with the lights on it and the wall,” he said. “We’re hoping to get this Veterans Park fixed up.

“I’ve got volunteers who will help landscape that park, and the city council has designated $3,200 for playground equipment.”

But Turner said he is concerned it isn’t enough money to buy the equipment they need for a nice play area for the children.

“Some people may say I’m eccentric, but I just want to instill some community spirit.”

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