Article related to mural: Ganther's Place, Walt Neil mural
Title: Walt Neil's mural marks Ganther's Place
Author: no byline
Published In: Call & Post; All-Ohio edition
Date: Nov 11-17, 2009
URL: no longer active

Walt Neil's mural marks Ganther's Place

Passersby appear startled to see the massive, bold and bright-colored floral design on the building at the corner of Parsons and Reinhard Avenues. Yet it is just another signature piece by homegrown artist Walt "Wali" Neil.

The mural, funded through a 2009 United Way of Central Ohio Neighborhood Improvement grant marks Parsons and Reinhard Avenues as the official gateway to Ganthers Place, a community on the city's South Side that is literally being reborn. The transformation of the area principally results from tireless work of two residents, Alan Carrel and Ken Williams and the Ganthers Place Block Watch and Garden Club they created seven years ago.

Assisted by the city's Keep Columbus Beautiful, the group created a flowering mini park with lots of greenery out of an empty lot between two houses. And, thanks to a grant acquired through KCB the park also has green amenities such as a solar lamp, a green house, a composter, recycled benches, recycled trash receptacles and rain barrels.

"Walt Neil's beautiful mural at the gateway to Ganthers Place is a symbol of hope for residents of that area, as is the fine work Carrel and Williams have done to upgrade the area into a thriving community," said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. Neil's African guide on one of his African trips named him "Wali" - a Kiswahili word meaning "friend." He is an accomplished vocalist, drummer and teacher of the arts. His talents have taken him on a journey around the world, teaching art and music courses in the fishing village of Ngor in Senegal, West Africa, and consultant to Harambee II, Wholistic Stress Control Institute in Atlanta, work in Jamaica, an artist-in-residence at the African American Museum in Cleveland. His art has been seen in the King Arts Complex in Columbus, a "Heal The World" festival at the Cleveland Museum of Art and at Cleveland's City Hall.

In part self-taught and in part the result of mentoring he received from Columbus artists Tom Pannell, Ed Colston and Bill Agnew. Neil has shared this talent with urban youth, teaching art in schools and afterschool programs. As a muralist he has worked to prevent youth from turning to graffiti vandalism. Much of his Columbus mural work remains untagged.

South Side neighbors, children, civic leaders and business owners stood together to witness the mural's dedication as Brother Wali led them in song. "Harambee" they chorused standing in the middle of Reinhard Avenue. Yes, they were coming together.

Neil's work and life experience is perfectly suited for a neighborhood in transition.

Go by the building at Parsons and Reinhard Avenues and check out the new mural. You'll see what I mean.