Barko Mural Reflects History of Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Local graphic artist Bob Barko is unveiling two new panels for his now 32-foot-long “Here In Youngstown” mural at the 21st Annual Summer Festival of the Arts.

The event is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on July 13 at Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University. The mural will be displayed during the entire festival.

The two new panels include 30 images based on Youngstown history such as the No. 61 Carousel, the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, the Federal Building and actor Ed O’Neill. 

Barko, a graphic artist, is finishing the pair of four-foot wide, six-foot high panels this week, wrapping up about 75 hours of work on the eight-foot addition to the original 24-foot long mural subtitled “A Visual History of Youngstown, Ohio.” 

The project, done 12 years ago in conjunction with the 2007 Junior League of Youngstown’s Provisional Class, was unveiled as part of that year’s YSU Summer Festival of the Arts. The original mural consisted of six four-foot-wide, six-foot-high panels, featured 62 individual images depicting people, popular landmarks and attractions as well as products with roots in Youngstown. 

Area high school students and members of the Junior League class assisted Barko with applying base colors to the original mural panels. Barko completed the two new panels as a solo effort, he said, and although it took a decade, it came together quickly after he finished the concept and started painting. 

“I started priming on June 16, sketched in the layout using my artograph projector and started painting soon after finishing up the base colors this Sunday night,” he said. “This week I am doing the finish work including outlines, shading and highlighting.”

“I have been at it for about four or five hours at a stretch, sometimes going until 1 or 2 in the morning after work and on weekends,” Barko continued. “This was a marathon project, but I think the panels turned out great and I am very happy with the end result.” 

All eight of the mural panels employ acrylic paints applied to primed Masonite panels attached to wood frames and legs to allow for the mural to be free standing when displayed. The panels are locked together when displayed and come apart to allow for transport and storage.

The artist has been creating artwork featuring Youngstown’s popular culture since 1996, but noted that in the social media age, he was able to keep his audience in the loop on the progress of his latest project.

“Since I started this project, I did updates with photos on my Facebook page – it was pretty cool to let my page followers see the progress on the mural – they seemed to enjoy being along for the journey,” Barko said. “I hope everyone likes the end result.” 

Following the unveiling, the public and media are invited to visit the Steel Town Studios booth, where Barko will have the 12-inch-by-36-inch “Here In Youngstown” fine graphic art photo of the original six murals released in 2007. They will be $20 each at the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts, which will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 13 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 14. 

Barko said he is working with a local printer to have a print of the new panels ready for this year’s Canfield Fair. He said the new print will sell for $20 and be a companion piece to the 2007 print. It will include a key with information on each of the images depicted in the artwork. 

The new artwork is scheduled to be available for purchase at the fair at Barko’s Steel Town Studios booth on the corner of Beaver and Bishop Drives on the fairgrounds. 

Pictured above: Additions to Bob Barko’s mural “Here in Youngstown” will be unveiled during this year’s Summer Festival of the Arts.

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