Creating a Vibrant Uptown

The Centerpieces Mural Program brings art to the public and makes Centerville a destination.

Article by Nina Weierman

Photography by Kelly Settle–Kelly Ann Photography

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

If you’ve driven down Main Street in Centerville in the past year you have likely noticed some colorful additions to the city landscape. Pulling up to the stoplight at Franklin and Main, the brightly colored and aptly named “Geometric Elk'' welcomes you from the side of the Square One Salon building. The vibrant mural completed by Jennifer Sayger of Murage Studios in late fall 2021, marked the first installation for the City of Centerville Centerpieces Mural Program. 

Jennifer S. drew inspiration for her design from a series of paintings that she completed titled “Slices of Centerville” which featured a geometric elk. Working with the city, she chose colors to really make the elk design pop. “We wanted to keep hints of yellow and black throughout but not overpower the mural with only the school's colors. The array of hues really tie in with the Centerpieces mosaic theme for the city,” explains Jennifer S. 

She has been painting since she was a little girl and was influenced by her grandmother who painted with oils for many years. “Even at the age of 99, her painted landscapes still hang in her home,” shares Jennifer S.  She admits that mural painting kind of fell into her lap. “After completing my education at the School of Advertising Art, I was asked if I could paint a jungle scene mural in a nursery and I thought sure, ‘I'll give it a shot’ and the rest is history.” Painting murals since 1994, Jennifer S. recalls how art has become much more accessible over the years. “I feel like back when I first started painting murals, all of the unique art was indoors. Now, you can discover many more interesting works as you pass through a city, walk by to visit a shop in town, or stop to take a photo-op.”

Jennifer Eickelberger has also been painting from a young age. She completed the whimsical “Bold Centerville” mural this past fall on the south-facing wall of Marion’s Piazza along the driveway to Activity Center Park. “As a kid, my parents would let me paint murals in my room. They really gave me the freedom to try things,” shares Jennifer E. After college, she put art on the back burner to focus on her family, but she continued painting murals around her house and for friends and family. It was after she started working as the creative director for a local nonprofit, Made to Love in Hamilton, Ohio that she was able to focus more on her love for creating.  

Inspired by vintage postcards, Jennifer E’s mural design incorporates shapes and swirls and some native flowers from the area. “I love vintage postcards with the name of the city so I wanted to do something like that,” she explains. “My hope is that you smile when you see it.” Jen Acus Smith, Christin Harris, Beth Stoughton and Anissa Poulcheon worked as supporting artists on this mural. “We hid the artist's initials in some of the shapes to make it fun to find,” shares Jennifer E. 

Modeled after the StreetSpark Program in Hamilton, the Centerpieces Mural Program is a partnership between the Centerville Arts Commission and the Centerville Community Improvement Corporation with the goal of making Centerville a vibrant destination. The program aims to attract more residents, visitors and businesses to the Centerville area while showcasing the creativity and vision of artists through high-quality mural designs. “We hope to make more spaces that are the kind of spots where you want to stop and snap a photo to remember your time,” shares Kate Bostdorff, communications director for the City of Centerville.  

For each mural, a call to artists was put forth and the design selection committee chose the winning design based on a list of criteria. The selection committee looks for excellence in execution and artistic skill, designs that show creativity and originality and being responsive to the physical site and neighborhood where the mural will be located.

“We received so many submissions each time we issued a call to artists. That shows there is so much art happening locally – and it’s really good,” says Kate. 

The Centerpieces Mural Program will continue bringing art to the public as The City of Centerville seeks to enhance the visual appeal of Uptown with high-quality visual art pieces. Residents can look forward to more murals and even possibly some sticker-style, smaller pieces in the coming years. To learn more visit, CentervilleOhio.gov.

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