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Tamaqua mural celebrates spirit

There are more than 300 reasons to be happy about living in the Tamaqua area, according to results of a recent community brainstorming session.

Those reasons have been painted into a large mural — Where’s Waldo-type creation — to remind local residents for the next 20 or 30 years to choose happiness.

On Sunday, the finished work was unveiled at the east side of the Verizon Building, 1 W. Broad St.

“We did three of these and this one is the most complicated. We’re trying to bring art out into the community,” said Lorraine Felker of the Walk-In Art Center of Schuylkill Haven, project partner along with the Tamaqua Community Arts Center.

Over the course of the year, WIAC Artist Association member Julie Richards served as artist-in-residence working with Lori Remmel, Tamaqua school art teacher, and her students, to create the mural.

“It was an amazing experience to work with the high school kids,” said Richards. Using “Choose Happiness” as the central theme, the students included over 300 hidden items representing what makes the community happy.

Some of those reasons for happiness are obvious, such as the school’s much-heralded marching band. Others are more obscure, such as the availability of sushi in Tamaqua restaurants.

To finish the project, public painting events were held throughout the community to ensure everyone could be involved in making history with the mural.

Support for the project was provided by Schuylkill County Intermediate Unit, Personal Touch by Debbie Gilbert, and Verizon.

“We’re proud to be a catalyst,” said Tony Boyle of Verizon.

This mural represents the latest public art initiative spearheaded by the Walk In Art Center’s Art 4U initiative. It is the mission of WIAC Art 4U to inspire art, lacing communities together by introducing murals, bringing all ages together, from inception to completion.

Leona Rega of the TCAC said collaboration produces great results.

“We admire what they’ve done,” Rega said.

Pennsylvania Sen. David Argall, R-29, said the idea of drawing partners together is a winning approach.

“This is a perfect example of different communities coming together.” Argall spoke of the importance of the arts in the overall goal of revitalization.

Micah Gursky, Tamaqua Area Community Partnership executive director, said the collective outlook of a population can make a difference.

“Happiness is something you choose to do. Happiness can define the best aspects of a community.”

The TACP provides a safe place for area residents to create, learn and appreciate the fine and performing arts. The center strives to use art in public spaces, and collaboration as a way to encourage open and frank dialogue spurring community development.

The TACP consists of all area residents who seek to preserve the best of the past, enhance the quality of life in the present, and work to create a better future for the generations that follow.

The Walk In Art Center houses 16 individual creative studios for working artists, the WIAC Folk Art Gallery, the Main Gallery, the Community Gallery, rotating exhibits, activities for young and the young at heart, diverse events and an art classroom.

The Walk In Art Center’s mission is to inspire, equip and celebrate the cultural and creative talent of Schuylkill County. Its vision is providing opportunity for the pursuit of creative expression.

The next project will be 783 Points of Light, a countywide effort to produce murals that identify stars of each community. There are 783 square miles in Schuylkill County.

For more information regarding the murals, please contact Debbie Gilbert at wiac.art4u@gmail.com.

About 300 positive elements about life in the Tamaqua area are embedded in this mural on the side of the Verizon Building, 1 W. Broad St., unveiled Sunday. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
“This is a classic example of people coming together to make things better,” said Sen. David G. Argall (R-29) on Sunday at the unveiling of a mural on the side of the Verizon Building in Tamaqua. DONALD R. SERFASS/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
The mural on the side of the Verizon Building, next to the Tamaqua train station, has drawn much interest since its completion last week. The artwork was unveiled Sunday.