Ohio University graduate students Barry O’Keefe and Amanda Morris touch up the “Eldridge Mural” beneath Seigfred Hall (Matthew Forsythe)
Ohio University graduate students Barry O’Keefe and Amanda Morris touch up the “Eldridge Mural” beneath Seigfred Hall (Matthew Forsythe)

Community Invited to Celebrate Restored Eldridge Mural

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The Ohio University School of Art + Design will host an alumni reunion and mural re-dedication event on Friday Oct. 9 at 5 p.m. to celebrate the recently restored Aethelred Eldridge mural, seen by generations as an Athens cultural landmark.

The event, which will include refreshments, live music by OU alumnus Aaron Butler and an installation of historical materials from Eldridge’s archives, will be held under the arched mural in the walkway beneath Seigfred Hall.

This summer, graduate students Barry O’Keefe and Amanda Morris took on the task of restoring the mural originally created by Eldridge in 1966. The black-and-white mural is a familiar sight, not only to current students and staff, but also to alumni and community members. Eldridge painted the current mural design, its fourth iteration, in 1987.

As part of the restoration process, the opposite wall and staircase was painted gray –minus the newly restored risers, which include details repeated from the larger mural design.

The project, which was funded by Arts for Ohio, involved scrubbing down the walls, as well as removal of graffiti by Building Services workers. Morris and O’Keefe then began touching up the figures, shapes and lettering with a variety of brushes.

The team consulted historic photos and videos to recreate parts that had been covered up or were no longer visible. David LaPalombara, director of the School of Art + Design, said they took care not to alter the original work wherever possible.

“When you’re that close to something you’re going to notice details like how a single brush stroke is working, and to discover the different layers of past murals beneath the surface,” added Morris, a third-year printmaker.

Professor Emeritus of Painting Eldridge started teaching at the University in 1957 and is something of a legend around campus and beyond.

“I’ve always liked this mural,” said O’Keefe, also a third-year printmaker, who sees this project as a way to preserve Eldridge’s influence. “I think Aethelred’s a super interesting part of the history of OU.”

LaPalombara added that Eldridge gave his blessing to the project.

“(Eldridge) was absolutely thrilled,” he said.