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Artists Turn Abandoned Bridge Into a Positive Message

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Artists Turn Abandoned Bridge Into a Positive MessagePhoto by Justin-Paul Villanueva.
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When the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic first began to transpire, like many other artists Mandi Caskey began to lose gigs or have others pushed back. She wanted to find a way to help local artists, while also giving back to the community.

Caskey knew the abandoned bridge near Scioto Audubon Metro Park well and had already thought of doing a large mural there. The bridge has been abandoned since at least the 1980s, according to WOSU, and is a popular spot for graffiti and street artists.

Caskey approached Brian Suiter, her business partner for Catalyst Columbus, with a Photoshop image of the mural. At first she thought it was a pipe dream, but after talking to him and Lori Baudro of the Columbus Arts Commission, the idea started to become a reality.

Eventually, the Columbus Department of Public Service and the Ohio Department of Transportation both signed off on the mural.

“The whole thing was just super surreal,” says Caskey.

Satellite image of the abandoned bridge above I-70/I-71. Image via Google Maps.

The group spent days measuring, clearing and cleaning the bridge before getting started.

The 400-foot mural took 50 gallons of paint ant 17 hours to complete.

Artists and others involved with the project include David Greenzalis, Jacob Bench, Katie Bench, Hawke Trackler, Lisa Celesta, Ariel Peguero, Chris Blain, Patrick Cardwell, Eric Terranova, Sam Rex and Tim Cousino.

Photo by Taijuan Moorman.
Photo by Taijuan Moorman.
Photo by Taijuan Moorman.
Photo by Taijuan Moorman.

The mural reads “We Are Stronger Together” and addresses unity during the pandemic, but is meant to have a variety of meanings.

“I wanted to do something that could cover everything and anything,” she says. “So I was like, OK, what’s something that we can create that’s a strong message, that’ll bring hope and inspire this city and give Columbus a smile?”

Artists were able to be paid for their work through Catalyst and funding from the Create Columbus Commission, while Caskey donated her time and took a more managerial role for the project.

She says, with everything going on right now, from the pandemic to the recent protests, the message still stands.

“The world is a crazy place,” she says. “And as an artist, I never know what to do. So getting people involved around something that will possibly help the community is super important, you know?”

She says it was great to have the community come together for the project.

“I’m just super proud and thankful for the people in my community that supported it,” she says. “I want that to be [the] message… Even when shit is crazy, people can come together and make something good out of this.”

Photo by Justin-Paul Villanueva.
Photo by Justin-Paul Villanueva.

For more information, visit www.catalystcolumbus.art.

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