Mural 64, Genoa S.N.A.C., Westerville, Ohio

You just never know where inspiration for a mural may come from.  Most of the time, they come by way of the Internet.  Other times, they come from people I know.  But, the inspiration for the Special Needs Adult Christians mural came while I was sitting in church, innocently not expecting anything to happen.  In a meeting where different groups within the church were introduced, I learned about the S. N. A. C. at Genoa Church.  It didn’t take a minute.  There was nothing to really think about.  I knew right away that I wanted to paint a mural with these young people.

It wasn’t hard to find the email of the people in charge of the group.  As soon as John and Cindy took a look at my website (which has had a remarkable overhaul), they instantly wanted to grab paint brushes.  So, it was going to happen.

Getting the wheels of administration to approve the project took about twelve weeks.  WHAT?  I had hoped to be finished with the mural eight weeks ago.  But, when things are out of your control, you learn to roll with it.  In the meantime, I met with the SNAC young people.  

John told me that once these very special people meet you, they bond with you.  They love you.  They will hug you.  You will always be a part of their community.  It sounded like a win to me.  And, John was so very right.  I got my first hug the very first evening.

As usual, if I get my way, I like to illustrate a word.  It doesn’t matter if most people never see the word.  Each letter illustrates something to do with the overall theme.  I figured that the natural word to select for this project was GENOA, the name of the church.  In the letter G, I added logos for a selection of some of the different ministries offered.  Everything Genoa has a very round “G” icon somewhere in the printing.  I also included the orange logo for Celebrate Recovery, the emblem for the Genoa Bible Institute, the Lion mascot for the church’s academy, the logo for the Awana children’s ministry, and – of course – the S.N.A.C. icon.  It was no small task to paint all of the letters and detail that the letter “G” possessed.

The letter E was half of the main window at the entrance to the church.  It’s a pointed window at the top with a white cross in the middle.  A few weeks ago in a service, the pastor mentioned a five-word acronym for the letters in Genoa.  I was listening and decided that those words would nicely fit into the second letter of my mural.  Genuine, Encouraging, Nurturing, Optimistic, and Atmosphere.  

The letter N includes people of all ages, sizes, and colors.  Woven among the faces are some words that the S.N.A.C. members suggested could be used for the mural theme.  I put them here and wrote, “Our church is Family, Kindness, Faith, Courage, and Worship.”

The cross and an open Bible fill up the letter O entirely.  The design is meant to show that Jesus and the word of God are important in everything that takes place at Genoa Church.  Anything else is secondary.  Now, I have my designs, but not everything always goes according to plan.  You cannot be a "diva artist" and paint community murals.  I originally had the cross completely behind the Bible.  But, when the S.N.A.C. members painted, one young man extended the cross down on top of the Bible.  The more I looked at the “mistake”, the more I wish I had thought of it.  You see a larger cross, and it appears to burst out of the Bible.  Yessiree, when an excellent idea comes my way, I don’t paint over it.

The final letter, A, was filled with ministries found at the church.  At the top are boxes for Ukraine and South Sudan.  Genoa Church has boxed up food to send to both locations in recent years.  There is a backpack to represent the back-to-school supplies for children.  And, if you look closely, there is a Christmas keychain on the bag because the church also supports Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child.  That cause delivers Christmas shoe boxes to children around the globe, rivaling a jolly round elf with a beard and a collection of reindeer.  The design contains a wheelbarrow representing the people who do groundskeeping tasks around the church.  (I never volunteer for cutting grass!)  Food goods on the mural represent donations made throughout the year for those in need in Columbus.  Perhaps the most entertaining item in the entire project represents those who work in the parking lot on Sundays, organizing the flow of traffic.  If you live in Buckeye Nation, you’ll recognize what Ray does every Sunday as he raises his arms for an “O” and an “H”.  It has nothing to do with, “Oh, I love Michigan!”  Ray is probably the most recognized volunteer in the church.  Certainly, he’s known much more than the most non-famous, world-famous artist on the planet.

Anything else hidden in the mural?  Do you seriously have to ask?  It isn’t the subtle “23” in the bottom right corner.  The mural was completed in 2023, but that is no secret.  The secret is not “the Mural” that is displayed on the pencil.  Nope, no secret there.  I want everyone to see that website.  The secret is hidden in the flower on top of the pile of dirt.  I always like to slip in the number for my murals into the design.  The more hidden the better, and this is one of my best!  Nobody will ever just walk by the mural and say, “Oh, I see that this is mural 64!”  or “What in the world is the number 64 doing in the middle of this design?”  Even if you know the number is on the mural, it’s hard to find.  But, again, look at that flower.  The petals on the flower gently fold at the tips, but only one folds into a circle.  That circle is part of the number 6.  Right next to the six is a mysterious dark green triangle.  That’s part of the outline for the number 4.  And now, you know the secret and where it is located, too.  (It is more clearly visible in the Photos Section of this mural site.)

As I write this, I don’t know where the mural will be displayed.  The pastor who approved the project said it would be in the main foyer for a couple weeks so people could see it.  After that, he wasn’t sure about the final destination.  He mentioned room with a large storage area.  Now, I’ve never known that guy to have a sense of humor.  I don’t know if he was joking.  But, I do know that if mural 64 ever ends up in a closet, I’m looking for a new church.  

Several people wandered into the room where the four mural panels were painted.  Odds were about 50/50 if they actually saw that it spelled “GENOA”.  Some people identified it immediately.  I was impressed.  Other mere humans needed a little help, which I was always happy to supply.

NOBODY ever walked into the room and said, “Oh, I love mural 64!”