A trio of artists worked to bring light and hope to Boyd County through their art.
Boyd County High School graduate Sydney Duarte and Ashland graduate Ann Duarte were brought back to the area to paint a mural. With mother-daughter duo, Treazy Treaz, Sydney’s boyfriend from Australia.
Camp Landing launched a call for artists on Facebook. They were looking for submitted designs for a mural that would go on the movie side of Camp Landing.
The Duartes have lived outside the region for more than 20 years and travel the world with their art, alongside Treaz. Sydney’s father still lives in the area, so she was able to visit and introduce him to Treaz, she said.
Their connection to the area is what brought them back. They get work largely through word of mouth or someone finding their social media pages. Locals who knew their job kept tagging the ladies in the post.
The call wanted the mural to encompass all facets of the county, from Rush Off Road to Paramount and bridges. They worked on a design to try to honor both the city and the county.
Sydney Duarte said the Camp Landing area was, for her, halfway between the city and the rest of the county. She sees the mural as a “welcome to the neighborhood,” Sydney said.
The mural features a vintage postcard look that blends old and new. Just above the banner that says “Greetings from” is the state bird, the cardinal. Ann said her intention was to put the state flower there, but when she realized it was a goldenrod, she opted for a different direction.
Coming home was interesting for the Duartes. They noticed that some monuments and businesses have disappeared, but new things are coming to life. Sydney added that Treaz had experienced good old Southern hospitality.
Treaz said people have been very nice and he’s enjoyed seeing where the Duartes are from. People have been a highlight for the crew, whether it’s those they’ve known for a while or others they’ve just met.
Sydney said working with Marketing Director Chrissy Dillow and General Manager George Bagnoli at the theater has been great.
“They’re so sweet,” Sydney said. “And having people on the inside putting out as much love as what we’re trying to represent on the outside, to me, that’s where the magic comes in.”
Ann was able to reconnect with her time in Ashland. She’s had her fill of Giovanni and will bring home some Heiner bread and Snyder fries. They are the best and they are not available outside the region, she said.
Many of her friends have moved away, but she was able to have dinner with her best friend’s parents over the weekend. They are like second parents to her and she beamed with gratitude as they shared the time.
They reconnected with friends from the past and learned how their lives had changed, Sydney said. Both Duartes said a lot in the area had changed for the better and they were happy to see it.
Ann has a habit of putting murals on local businesses. She started painting on the side of a business in Catlettsburg. Over 20 years later, she is back in Boyd County, bringing art and life to the area.
The three artists worked long hours from Thursday to Monday to install the mural which spans the full height of the wall. Sydney said they hadn’t slept much in the five days as they tried to “race the rain” and finish before the predicted storms arrived.
The intense texture of the walls made the run a little more difficult. All three joked that someone skilled could scale the walls. They used a paint sprayer to cover large areas with paint, as well as spray paint and painted details with a brush to get the job done.
“It’s been a challenge,” Sydney said.
“Challenge accepted!” cried Treaz.
They finished on Monday afternoon, then headed downtown to Art Alley to finish their work there. Through their exploration of the old and new in the area, the trio were allowed to add individual pieces to the Art Alley.
Sydney Duarte added a hand with a mountain scene with a waterfall falling over the road. Treaz added a tribal-themed mural with purples, blues, pinks, and oranges. Ann Duarte was completing a floral mural that would allow the passerby to reach out and make the person feel like they were holding a large bouquet.
People stopped while they were working. They saw cars on US 60 slowing down trying to get a glimpse of the work. Rural King customers drove slowly a few rows away. Cars slithered around trying to figure out what was going on with the mural without shutting down. Some stopped and asked, but Sydney waved many to take a look.
She smiled at the ladder or scaffolding and waved or waved passers-by to come.
Treaz said he had seen and participated in mural festivals. He explained that artists place large-scale works all over town and talk about their pieces with people.
A massive amount of color and vibrancy is added to small towns and villages during the week, Treazy said, adding that it would be a great idea for this region to continue adding art to spaces.
“It brings a lot of light to the area,” said Sydney Duarte. She added that it gives people the opportunity to connect with the artist in a different way than just viewing his work.
“We know we’re not going to stay here all the time to say hello to everyone, but we want to put a lot of love into it, and I hope they feel that love when we’re not here,” said Sidney.
As people approached the mural, a common question was asked in Sydney. They ask who is painting the mural. Often older men assume it’s not Sydney, a young woman. She wears paint stained overalls and carries a spray paint can. However, the hypothesis exists that it is not her.
She smiles big and throws up her hands to show off her colorful striped overalls and says, “That’s me!”
Sydney isn’t visibly frustrated with the constant bias, but knows how that assumption can play into the thoughts of other young female artists. She was told at a very young age that she could not pursue a career in art.
“Yes you can,” she said firmly with a bright smile. “You can do anything!”
Ann echoed her daughter “yes you can!”
They met a young female artist while painting in the alley. She asked how they had been able to add their parts. She works on canvases and wanted to know how to do like the trio. They introduced her to whoever gave them permission, Sydney said.
They hope to inspire people with art. Sydney, along with Ann, argued that artists can make a living from art and women can.
“If we can encourage other artists to pursue their dreams and know there’s no limit to what you can do,” Sydney said. “You can literally do anything, you can paint a car or you can paint the floor or the ceiling.”
Sydney said she hopes people like the mural and enjoy it. People passing by are already excited and interested in their work. Sydney hopes this is just the start of more artistic appearances in Boyd County.
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