Murals celebrating nature, diversity, history, and outdoor activities have been painted on or near several Oak Ridge buildings, including at the boathouse and at ORNL Federal Credit Union.
Three murals have been painted near the ORNL Federal Credit Union headquarters on Rutgers Avenue. Another mural has been painted on the Oak Ridge Rowing Association boathouse at Melton Lake Park.
A fifth mural is being painted on an ORNL Federal Credit Union building on West Tennessee Avenue.
The first three murals painted at the credit union headquarters building on Rutgers Avenue were designed by students at Oak Ridge High School, Jefferson Middle School, and Willow Brook Elementary School, according to JMS art teacher Jim Dodson, who is also an Oak Ridge City Council member. The murals were created by Bryan Wilkerson, art professor at Roane State Community College. For their work, each of the schools received a $500 contribution to their art departments, and the students received a cash award, Dodson said.
The mural at the Oak Ridge boathouse was sponsored by Explore Oak Ridge, which promotes local events and tourism, and the artist was Megan Lingerfelt. She was suggested by Dodson, who was familiar with her work in downtown Knoxville. Lingerfelt, who lives in Oak Ridge, is experienced and very talented and creative, Dodson said Wednesday.
Dodson said he and Katy Watt of Explore Oak Ridge had discussed a potential mural at Melton Lake Park, and Jon Hetrick of Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department and Jim Rogers of Oak Ridge Rowing Association were included in the discussions. The mural was approved after several versions were presented, and it was completed last year. The mural was paid for by Explore Oak Ridge through a grant, Dodson said.
The goal was to have the mural represent waterfront activities such as fishing, jogging, rowing, and wildlife. The name “Oak Ridge” is integrated into the mural. Awards ceremonies are being held in front of the mural, and it is being seen all over because of the photos taken in front of it, Dodson said.
The 102-foot by 20-foot mural being painted on the ORNL Federal Credit Union building on West Tennessee Avenue at Jackson Square focuses on history. It includes art derived from Ed Westcott’s historical photos, Dodson said. ORNL Federal Credit Union sought five artists for the project. They had to submit their designs by January 31.
There were several submissions from artists, and Lingerfelt was selected by credit union representatives, Dodson, and the Dogwood Arts Festival. Her work started in March and could be complete in June. ORNL Federal Credit Union is covering the cost of the mural project. The discussions about the mural included Colin Anderson, president and chief executive officer of ORNL Federal Credit Union.
“Mural design submissions were to illustrate the city’s iconic and innovative history, and Megan’s design best met our objective for the commissioned piece,” Tom Wright, chief marketing officer for ORNL Federal Credit Union, said in a press release earlier this year.
“The design is meant to tell a story of the beginnings of Oak Ridge and the drive within the lab that has transformed the city to what we know today,” Lingerfelt said in the press release. “A focus is drawn on Oak Ridge photographer Ed Westcott’s visual contributions of the early years of the Secret City.”
The right half of the design shifts to modern and currently unfolding developments, Lingerfelt said, and it highlights notable community elements that “define the power and philosophy of ORNL Federal Credit Union’s purpose, ‘Together, We Thrive,'” Lingerfelt said.
The building houses ORNL Federal Credit Union’s facilities staff members and equipment. It is one block from Jackson Square, the city’s original town site, and close to many landmarks, including Oak Ridge Playhouse, Alexander Inn, and Chapel on the Hill. The Anderson County Family Justice Center is leasing space there, using about 50 percent of the shared space at 301 Broadway, the part of the building that faces Broadway Avenue.
Lingerfelt grew up in North Carolina and studied drawing and painting at the University of North Carolina in Asheville. After graduating with a degree in fine arts in 2010, she built her studio practice in Seattle, where she discovered a love for murals, a press release said. She now lives in Oak Ridge.
Spokesperson Jessica Emert said ORNL Federal Credit Union is the presenting sponsor of Dogwood Arts and supports public art and making the arts accessible to all.
“Through Dogwood’s Art in Public Places program, we have sponsored multiple sculptures in Oak Ridge, as well as a sculpture at our Northshore Town Center location,” Emert said. “In Oak Ridge, we have a sculpture at our headquarters, we sponsor a sculpture at AMSE (American Museum of Science and Energy), and we purchased the sculpture that’s installed at Jackson Square. New sculptures are installed annually (unless a permanent installation like at Jackson Square).
A September press release from Dogwood Arts celebrated an expansion into Oak Ridge with the three new sculptures mentioned by Emert and with support from ORNL Federal Credit Union and partnerships with Dodson and the American Museum of Science and Energy.
Dodson said other murals are possible on the wastewater storage tank on Emory Valley Road across from Priceless IGA—potential renderings could be presented to the city—and on the stairs going down from Jackson Square to Greenwich Village.