Remembering the Lee-Meadowbrook mural
The Cedar-Lee-Meadowbrook construction began recently—a development that will revitalize this key commercial district. While I am excited to watch it take form, I couldn’t help but also feel sad to see the mural wall come down.
In 2017, Krissy Dietrich Gallagher was tired of seeing the empty green wall in the vacant lot. Her idea: bring fifth-graders from the two nearby elementary schools to paint a mural. She originally thought to depict a garden, but her friend and project partner, Bill Schubert, suggested something more manageable for kids: houses.
After project approval from the city’s Architectural Board of Review, which made clear that the city planned to develop the site soon, and with the city’s assistance in giving the wall a new light-blue base coat, Gallagher and Schubert faced the trickiest part of the project: organizing multiple classes of fifth-graders to paint something beautiful.
With the help of art teachers from Boulevard and Fairfax elementary schools (the two public schools within walking distance), the team divided the wall into sections for each student to draw their own house. Once each drawing was approved by the mural team, students got to work applying paint—donated by Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, and community members who provided remnant supplies from past projects—using supplies from Blick Art Materials.
When the students finished their part, Gallagher and Schubert got to work cleaning up the mural—outlining the houses to create more definition and filling in color to make it more vivid. Londyn Crenshaw and Mila Zelic from the Heights High Arts Club added paintings of the Cedar Lee business district and contributed many after-school hours helping with cleanup. Finally, a passerby and painter stopped and offered his services, so Charlie G’s Painting Co. gave the final product a clear protective coat.
As Gallager said, “It was imperfect. It wasn’t shiny and new. But we created it together in our own Cleveland Heightsy kind of way. And it taught those students that when we come together, we can make something better.”
I moved to Cleveland Heights in 2017, and watching this piece of community art take shape is indelibly linked to how I came to understand this place where my family had landed. It was literally building community by painting a community. The Lee-Meadowbrook mural, a temporary community art project, depicted students’ houses. But it represented what makes Cleveland Heights home.
Josie Moore is a Cleveland Heights resident, mom, and partner. She is passionate about environmental sustainability and community building.