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Illinois artist selected for Westover bridge pier mural

An artist has been selected to design and complete a new mural in town.

Rafael Blanco will create the mural on the Westover bridge pier located near Hazel Ruby McQuain Park and the Walnut Street Landing. The mural will feature a man playing a saxophone and a woman biking.

Blanco said the opportunity to beautify an unexpected spot was a welcome challenge.

“Usually, the structure underneath a bridge is not a place one would think of finding art,” said Blanco. “In fact, most of the underpasses are gray and tend to be covered by graffiti. Creating a creative response to the Westover bridge pier and transforming it into a visually stimulating part of downtown Morgantown will improve the site and continue the redevelopment of the riverfront area.”

Blanco lives in Aurora, Ill., where he is an assistant professor at Elmhurst University in Chicago.

He has a Master of Fine Arts in drawing and painting from the University of Nevada. He has completed more than 25 pieces across the country since 2014.

After the call for artists was released, a public art advisory committee recommended Rafael Blanco to the Cultural Arts Commission, which approved him for the project.

“The selection committee and the arts commission were unanimous in their support and selection for this mural,” said Vincent Kitch, director of arts and cultural development for the City of Morgantown.

“Rafael will create a great mural and another significant piece of public art to enhance our community.”

The project is tentatively scheduled for spring. The final design concepts were approved by the Cultural Arts Commission.

The city has approval from the West Virginia Department of Highways to complete the installation.