Chapin's new mural is still a work in progress. PHOTO | NATALIE SZRAJER
Posted Friday, September 15, 2023 7:58 am
By Natalie Szrajer email@example.com Chapin is artfully growing with a new downtown mural and an art trail, both unveiled during the town’s recent Labor Day festivities. The art pieces are part of a Crooked Creek Art League initiative to bring art into the community.
“The mural will be the latest addition collectively put in place on the Chapin Art Trail,” said Barbara Teusink, community arts manager for the league, noting that there are 31 pieces by 31 different artists on the trail, including the new mural located on Beaufort Street.
Teusink said the trail includes a variety of artwork, with signs and markers letting people know the art is a part of the trail.
There is also a scavenger hunt people can complete, with QR codes on the signs next to each art piece for people to scan to learn more about the piece and submit their entry. The hunt can be found on the Crooked Creek Art League website, and there are also brochures around town, including at Town Hall and the Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce. People who complete the hunt can submit to be entered into a quarterly drawing for a prize, with prizes being paid for through the community arts fund and other grant money.
Funding for the art trail comes from charitable organizations, operational funding, the state Arts Commission, the Town of Chapin, the Chapin Chamber of Commerce and other various sponsorships. More than 31 pieces were submitted for the trail, but some were auctioned off to private residences and galleries. The pieces submitted were completed by 38 artists and were started before COVID-19, with the project being halted for a time by the pandemic. In 2020, artists working with the league completed an indoor mural at the Crooked Creek Park, but with the world shutting down, the league couldn’t show it off to people. As 2021 began to bring the world back to life, Teusink said the group wanted to “continue the momentum” with community arts projects so the members worked on some four-foot artistic trail markers, which look like garden posts, painted by various artists. Most of these are on the art trail, but some were auctioned off. Teusink said the group hopes to add projects in the coming years. So far, the trail has multiple murals, statues and a mix of free-standing pieces. The trail extends as far as Prosperity, Little Mountain and Irmo, with the majority being centered around the Chapin area. “We serve artists and art lovers from the entire Midlands and Columbia area,” Teusink said of the league. “We have 150-plus members and have been growing steadily for years.” The league has an annual art show each March and an additional juried show at the Still Hopes retirement community in December, in addition to other exhibits scattered throughout the year and galleries and businesses that feature the group's artists. Mural Takes Off After working on several projects, Teusink said the league wanted to do a “single, big piece,” and grant money along with financial support from the Town of Chapin and the Greater Chapin Chamber of Commerce allowed them to do so.
“Originally, the project was for a free standing piece,” Teusink said.
The mural off Beaufort Street, located between Lexington Ave. and Clark St. behind the American Legion Post 193, came into existence and it isn’t quite finished, but its eagle wings have begun to take flight, with people taking notice and taking photos with the wings.
Paul Sadler, president and CEO of the chamber, said the chamber partnered on the mural because the group sees the “unique value that art has in our community.”
“It's going to be the new heartbeat of our town,” he said. “Just think of how many people will take a picture or a selfie in front of it and let their followers on social media know where they're at. This will spark interest and people will visit Chapin to take a picture with the mural and while they are here they will shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants which will help improve the economic vitality of our community. We are excited to see this piece of art completed and can't wait for the stories that will resonate with our community.”
The mural is the brainchild of local artist and art league member Nikki Peeples. The town’s second outdoor mural is the first for the artist, who has been professionally painting and selling artwork for the past decade. Peeples said the league had sent an email explaining the town was looking for “something fun and creative, a new piece of art to add to the Chapin Art Trail.”
“My husband and I travel and in traveling to other cities they had these cool murals. I thought it would be a great addition to Chapin,” said Peeples, explaining the entire side of the building will be covered with the wings.
“The whole idea and inspiration was Lake Murray,” the Chapin High graduate continued. “Chapin is the capital of Lake Murray and it’s fitting to showcase not only the beautiful part of town but the recreational part of town.” She said the blue and white wings are intended to be eagle’s wings in honor of Chapin High’s mascot, though she noted that some people see them as angel wings. She hopes to have the mural finished by the end of the year.
“I went outside of my comfort zone and I’m excited about it,” Peeples said. “I love to paint large. Most of my canvases are decent sizes. I don’t do small paintings.”