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The Arts Scene

New Murals in Thurmont

Jack Williams
MSM Class of 2017

(7/2017) There are a lot of things to love about our area: the forestry, the community, the passion for historical preservation, and most visibly, the beautiful architecture of the small towns that read this publication. For the past several years, Thurmont has taken on several public art projects, headed and created by Yemi Fagbohun, to display Thurmontís history through a mural on Main Street. The final phase of the project has been announced, with some interesting details that will be worth another visit to Thurmont!

The first phase of the project began in 2013, when the Thurmont Lions Club approached the town of Thurmont regarding a potential art project to "beautify the town." It was not the first public effort undertaken by the Thurmont Lions Club to aesthetically improve the town. In 2006, after extensive fundraising and approval by Thurmont, the Lions Club began refurbishing the old trolley track into a beautiful and accessible hiking trail complete with stabilized stream banks, four bridges and a mile-long graded biking and walking path.

The original plan for the mural was to create an image showcasing Thurmontís history as the last stop on the trolley line from the city of Frederick. This was unveiled in 2013, and was commissioned to Yemi Fagbohun.

Yemi was born in Nigeria, the son of a tailor and a wedding dressmaker. He moved to New York City to attend the Pratt Institute, where he studied Fine Arts and Communication Design. His portfolio is as impressive as it is diverse, having illustrated childrenís books, designed postage stamps for over six countries, created plaques and figurines, and painted a number of murals that can be found throughout Frederick County. The city of Frederick commissioned him for The Pillars of Frederick, one of the largest murals in the state of Maryland. He has made appearances in Time Magazine, The Washington Post, and Newsweek magazine. One resident, commenting on a mural in a WHAG news report, said of Yemi, "I think everyone here knows Yemi. Yemi is like a national star that stays in Frederick."

Having lived in New York City, taking part in the artistic hub of Brooklyn, one may wonder why Yemi chose to stake his claim in Frederick County! But after speaking with him for this piece, it became clear very quickly that Yemi takes considerable pride in our community. "I really appreciate the beauty and peace that I feel here," he said, "Thurmont is the kind of place I used to visit to refresh myself when I lived in NYC! There is a lot to love here, and my plan for the mural is to highlight those things that make Thurmont a great place to visit, thereby showing viewers of the art what we residents know."

In particular, Yemi believes "the mountains, the waterfall, the beach, the trees, the hiking, the biking, the swimming, the fishing, the camping" fuel his artistic pursuits, and imbue a feeling of pride in living in such a lovely area. In the same piece with WHAG news, Yemi expressed his intent on making Frederick County the artistic hub of the United States, "You build a brand one brick at a timeÖ This is a way of doing that. I want this town to be like Venice, in fact all of Frederick County, to be the Venice of America."

Yemi was the mind behind the first mural, and many others that have since been commissioned. He created five additional murals in Thurmont, including Loyís Station Bridge, Historic Buildings, and Area Attractions. These five murals were the second phase of the project, and were made possible through the efforts of the Lions Club and very generous donations from the public.

The third phase of the project is already underway, and fundraising has already begun! The subject of the third phase will be significant historical events in Thurmont, as well as stenciled outlines of our Presidents. These outlines consist of those Presidents who have visited Camp David, located in the Catoctin Mountain Park.

Camp David, the presidential retreat center, has been used by every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who converted the base from its original purpose as a camp for federal agents and their families. The mural will include each president since Roosevelt, including President Trump who visited Camp David in June, and will leave space available for future presidents who visit the Camp. Yemi is planning to hire students from Catoctin High School to help paint the stencils. Depending on the speed of achieving fundraising needs, the mural could be unveiled as early as next spring.

There was one thing that Yemi said that resonated with me in particular, "Community pride, I feel that we should shout our pride in our community." This is my last article as the arts reporter for the newspaper. There are so many people I have to thank for this amazing experience; Michael Hillman has had my back from the very beginning, helping to point me in the right direction and giving me lots of wiggle room to write about some topics that I thought were worth sharing! Oh, and his job is really interesting, could listen to him talk about it all day. Angela Smith, managing editor, is just as supportive and helpful as Michael, and the rest of our staff were as friendly and kind as they appear in print. It was a pleasure to write for a newspaper that fosters so much growth in everyone who writes for it.

But most of all, I am thankful for you guys, the community I had the pleasure to write for. Whether it was the artists and organizers I spoke with, or anyone reading along to find out what was news in town this month. I believe a newspaper can only be successful if it has a welcoming and supportive readership, and weíre blessed to have that here. From political editorials to Four Years At The Mount to our news reporters, we receive nothing but support from you all, and we really couldnít be more grateful for it.

There is this famous quote attributed to Pablo Picasso that says, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when he or she grows up." If there was one torch I hope I carried as the arts reporter, itís that there are plenty of people around here who seem to have solved this problem. There is so much art activity going on here, and itís something we should continue to cherish.

As Yemi said, we should shout our pride in our community. There is plenty to be proud of: beautiful landscapes, the solidarity we share with one another, and the welcoming environment of our town centers. But I would like to add art appreciation to the list; strong attendance at the Totem Pole Playhouse, lots of walkers at the Art & Wine Stroll, and increasing numbers attending the Mountís Fall and Spring Mainstages. Thank you so much for reading each month, and please, donít forget to take pride in this lovely place we get to call home!

Read other articles by Jack Williams