Old Fence Gets A New Look And Promotes The City
For years, Parma residents have driven past a blank fence on Brookpark Road near the exit ramp of 176 North and probably have not paid much attention to it. Now the fence beams with a colorful design and social media-inspired message: “#MeetmeinParma.”
When Mayor Tim DeGeeter was the Ward 4 councilman, he wanted to do something with the plain fence to promote Parma. Years later as mayor, he had a conversation with Chelsey Kovar, graphic designer and owner of All of Her Design, about enlivening the fence with public artwork.
“We selected a design last fall, but weather prevented Chelsey from painting the fence until this past spring. That’s a long fence to paint. She tackled a big project and did a wonderful job,” DeGeeter said.
In late April, Kovar began painting the mural on the fence, but it wasn’t easy. A cold, wet spring made it challenging. “Painting a fence is not like painting a canvas. The wood can’t be wet at all,” she said.
The 100-foot, shadow-box fence also tested Kovar’s patience and artistic skills. It required lots of primer, two layers of each paint color and a steady hand. “All the lines were done freehand. We could not tape off the lines. And, we could not spray on the paint because it might have drifted onto passing cars. We had to hand paint everything.”
Kovar solicited the help of her family. Her father and professional painter Jerry Hildebrant, intern Melinda Michaels and 7-year-old son Ari Kovar all pitched in.
After the team painted the background design, Kovar projected the message on the fence, traced the design and then painted the lettering freehand. Having spent so much time outside, Kovar said, “I did get a really nice tan.”
Kovar explained that the design represents more than just a public art piece. She wants it to become the slogan for a new campaign encouraging locals to take advantage of all that Parma has to offer. “Parma is a great place to eat, play and live. This is a small project that will have a big impact and showcase how much we have here,” she said.
Parma resident Suzy Griesmer is happy to see the artistic addition. “I thought it was a surprisingly contemporary invitation to our city,” she said. “Hopefully, it will rebrand Parma as a place people will want to explore.”
The campaign will include small paintings at popular interest points around the city, also with the message “#MeetmeinParma.” Polish Village, for example, will include the message on a mural that is now being painted.
The vibrant fence resides in Councilwoman Kristin Saban’s Ward 4, where it has been well received. “It is a burst of color you see when you enter the city that brings a smile to my face, along with many residents of Ward 4. I have heard from numerous residents that they love the sign, and I have seen people posting images of it on social media,” Saban said.
Kovar revealed that more murals are coming. “Public art helps to empower citizens, support local artists and revitalize a city,” she said.
DeGeeter is pleased to see a formally drab fence turned into public art with a positive message. “I am confident the campaign will be successful. We have lots of parks, restaurants and shops. There are many places to meet up with family and friends. Now visitors and residents can share images of their favorite meeting places on social media.”
Intern, City of Parma, Mayor's Office