New Jones mural to celebrate Blyth through the seasons
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
A new mural of Blyth, created by renowned cartoonist and artist Randy Jones, should be ready for installation at the Butterfly Garden along the Blyth Greenway Trail, part of the Goderich-to-Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail, this spring.
The community-based initiative of the Blyth Business Improvement Area (BIA) marketing committee, chaired by Annie Sparling, dates back to the inception of the committee. One of the group’s first ideas, she says, was to implement more public art into the village and one of the ways the group hoped to achieve that was through a large outdoor art piece, created by Jones.
Jones has already created a mural of the village, which is on the wall in one of the upper-level rooms at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company. It was installed in late 2017, at which time Jones returned to the village to sign the mural, which still hangs in the business’ Drummond Hall.
Jones has been creating art that’s been important to the village for a number of years.
The Exeter native has created art that has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, National Lampoon and more. In 2015, Jones was brought on to create the production posters for the Blyth Festival season, which included Seeds, The Wilberforce Hotel, Fury and Mary’s Wedding. It was the first season under current Artistic Director Gil Garratt. Jones also created art for the Blyth 14/19 project.
The concept behind the new mural, Sparling says, is to essentially create mural bookends for the village, with the G2G art in the north end of town and the Cowbell art in the south end of town. The newest mural, she said, really highlights Blyth as an arts community, which feeds into the village mission statement the committee created for Blyth, which is “Welcoming visitors to participate in the theatre of rural village life.”
She said that while that statement is certainly connected to the village’s long history with live theatre, it also touches on how the village can affect those who visit.
“Due to the fact that Blyth is a tight-knit community, embodying a strong influence from agriculture and the arts, when one visits the village, the spirit of the community has the potential to impact the visitor, and the visitor to impact the community,” Sparling said in an e-mail to The Citizen. “An example of this would be how when an actor comes to visit for the summer, they leave a lasting impact on the community and vice versa.”
The project became a reality with the support of Regional Tourism Organization (RTO) 4, the Blyth BIA and the Township of North Huron, which is also supporting the project through the use of the land on which the mural will sit at the garden.
Cat O’Donnell, the co-owner of Wonky Frog Studio in Blyth, was also instrumental in the process, Sparling said, working with Jones and his wife, Susann Ferris-Jones, to bring the committee’s vision to life with the help of the artist.
The mural, Sparling said, spans the entire village, including a number of landmarks and activities for which the village is known. It also includes Blyth through the seasons as well as from morning to night, as it runs from the left side to the right.
The Randy Jones portrayal of the village of Blyth in caricature is also supported by a generous gift in-kind from Blyth Printing. Right now, the group is planning to have the mural framed before it can be erected and installed in the spring.
Sparling said that, while plans are always subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she hopes to unveil the art in the spring with a special event.