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Catonsville

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Mural welcomes motorists entering Catonsville from Beltway

Those entering Catonsville from Interstate 695 may have noticed the brick wall of Perfect Touch Hair Salon & Day Spa on Frederick Road being coated by colorful brush strokes of paint over the past few weeks.

The once blank wall now has illustrations of musical notes, musicians and a sign that reads," Catonsville: Music City Maryland."

The work is by Catonsville artist Edward Williams, who has spent 60 hours painting the 50- by 18-foot mural. He expects it to be completed by the end of next week.

"I wanted to do something that promotes Catonsville and make an announcement...about what the town's about," said Williams, standing in front of the large mural on the side of the building owned by Jim Mohler, whose family owns a number of properties throughout Catonsville.

Williams, who resides in the Catonsville community of Paradise a short distance from where he is working, said he wants motorists to take notice of the growing music and arts community in the area.

"So many people see Catonsville as a bridge between Baltimore [City] and Ellicott City," Williams said. "I want people to see it as a place to stop."

Williams, 52, said he hopes the mural will help the business community, by enticing passersby to slow down and consider stopping as they enter the commercial corridor on Frederick Road.

"As you can see here, it's a very busy street," Williams said, looking at cars driving past on Frederick Road.

"Having something very brilliantly colored and has a lot of detail like this will make people take their foot off the gas for one second and just coast along and say 'Wow.' and maybe they're going to get out of their car and look around," Williams said, of his fifth public mural in Catonsville.

Mohler, 73, said he agreed to allow Williams to paint the mural on the side of the commercial building, because he believes it will be beneficial to businesses in the area.

"The other murals have gotten good reviews," said Mohler of Williams' muralslocated at the Paradise Loop bus shelter on Frederick Road and on the side of Duesenberg's American Cafe & Grill on Mellor Avenue. "And I liked that this one has so much to do with Catonsville."

Williams, a resident of the area for nearly 30 years, said he received support from the community throughout the process.

Jack Schatz, 70, who owns the property next door to the mural, a white house that he uses as an office. He said he will move a tree that is currently blocking the mural from the street, and will allow Williams to set up lights on his property to illuminate the painting.

"Some people have stopped by on their lunch break to help paint," Williams said.

The Catonsville High School Steel Band, a musical ensemble of 25 Catonsville High students who play steel drums, was part of the first steel drum program in Maryland and is depicted in the mural, along with other musical figures such as John Christ (Wolfgang Knoll), former lead guitarist of the metal band Danzig, who graduated from Catonsville High School.

"It's so cool," said Jim Wharton, 63, director of the band, with enthusiasm. "I was blown away when I saw it."

Wharton, who started the Steel Band program in 1991, said, "I can't imagine what [my students] are going to think because I was speechless."

The $4,200 project has been sponsored by the Catonsville Rotary Foundation, with donations from Bill's Music House, the Jim Wharton Family, Jim Mohler, Whalen Properties, Catonsville Auto Repair and Towing (Ed Griffin), Pittsburgh Paints, the Loverde Family Foundation, Ridgeway Automotive, James Laughlin Group, Duesenberg's Cafe & Grill and the Catonsville Mural Project.

Williams, who also does oil painting on canvas, said the local Rotary Club will also sponsor his next mural project, expected to be a set of six "mini-murals" in alleys on Frederick Road.

"That will cause people to slow down, too," Williams said. "To stop, shop, get out, and take a look around to see what our town is about artistically and musically."

At 11 a.m. Sept. 7 a dedication ceremony of the mural will be held, with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz as a guest speaker.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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