Mural to brighten center's hallway Walls, floor and ceiling to be decorated by seniors, volunteers from high schools CARROLL COUNTY SENIORS


Fran Mickel, who founded the agency that became the Carroll County Bureau of Aging, is turning her attention -- and her paintbrushes -- to the creation of a mural in the main hall of the Westminster Senior Citizens' Center.

The mural, still in the planning stages, will be designed and painted by senior citizens and high school student volunteers.

The seniors will gain companionship and the satisfaction of creating a work of art as students earn volunteer service credits required for graduation.

Plans call for the painting to cover walls, the ceiling and the floor of the ground-floor hallway, which is more than 70 feet long.

The project is the brainchild of Lynette Brewer, community services supervisor with the Carroll County Bureau of Aging.

"Everybody's been talking about, 'The hallway is dismal and needs an uplift,' " she said yesterday.

Her initial idea was to paint the walls sunshine yellow.

"As soon as I said 'sunshine,' I thought, why not have the sun shining in here, and turn it into an outdoor scene?" she said.

Ms. Brewer recruited Ms. Mickel, an Eldersburg retiree who started the Commission on Aging, 22 years ago. She is now an artist working in watercolors, acrylics, collage, wearable art and jewelry.

Ms. Mickel met yesterday with Angie Walz of Westminster, who teaches tole painting at the Westminster senior center; Estelle Sanzenbacher, student service coordinator for the Carroll County public schools; and Ms. Brewer. They planned how to make the dreary hallway blossom into a cheerful scene.

"It'll take the better part of the winter," said Ms. Mickel, who has done murals before.

She said the first step will be to convene a group of seniors and high school students to come up with a concept for the mural.

"I would hate to presume I knew what they wanted," she said. "I'm excited to see what the seniors suggest."

Ideas offered by the committee members yesterday include a park scene, a row of shops, an English garden, a Maryland highway and a parade scene.

Ms. Mickel said the challenge of doing a mural is to incorporate the features of the wall -- such as doors, display cases, and wiring conduits -- into the design.

"The wiring is actually fun," said Ms. Walz, because within the mural, wires can be transformed into such things as vines.

When the final drawing is made and transferred to the wall, she said, students will probably paint the ceilings and large areas while seniors concentrate on detail work.

Marcel van Rossum, who owns the Sykesville design studio A Sign Factory and has painted murals in Bethesda and Washington, will help with the project. He will do any needed lettering, and might help gather supplies.

"Any donations for paint would be greatly appreciated," Ms. Brewer said.

Ms. Mickel said the mural project offers her a special satisfaction because of her previous work with the Bureau of Aging.

"It's grown tremendously," she said, moments after being engulfed in a hug from a Westminster senior who recognized her from two decades ago.

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