In celebrating the county’s artistic and industrial heritage, two organizations are collaborating to introduce new permanent murals in a recently renovated auditorium.
Richmond Art Museum and Richmond Symphony Orchestra are offering “Creative Vision” from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5, at Richmond High School’s McGuire Hall, 350 Hub Etchison Parkway.
Shaun Dingwerth, RAM’s executive director, is eager to reveal four large murals featuring Richmond’s history.
They are each 6 feet high by 12 feet long on each side of the auditorium, which received a makeover in 2022 through funding from Richmond Redevelopment Commission, Richmond Community Schools and RAM.
More than $1 million was spent to renovate the auditorium for school and community events. The work includes the first-time installation of air conditioning, along with new sound and lighting equipment, seats, flooring, curtains, and paint.
RHS alumna Amy Rheinhardt painted the murals in a style corresponding with the era when McGuire Hall was built. The murals evoke memories of those painted by artists receiving Works Progress Administration funding during the Great Depression.
One of the murals includes a World War II image because McGuire Hall was dedicated on a significant date in history — Dec. 7, 1941, when Japan attacked the United States at Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor.
An anonymous donor commissioned the murals. Dingwerth said he hopes they will better link the auditorium with the surrounding professional art museum.
Although the murals can’t possibly include every notable person connected with RHS’ fine arts history, Dingwerth said, they aim to spotlight the school’s unique arts heritage as well as some individuals.
For instance, RHS was the first full high school orchestra in the United States and many of its graduates have become nationally known in the music industry. Two of those featured include Jack Everly, principal pops conductor for Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and jazz drummer Harold Jones.
RHS’ orchestra routinely performed on the McGuire Hall stage before Tiernan Center was built in 1984 and concerts moved to the former gymnasium in Civic Hall, so it’s a special space for many alumni. Civic Hall also underwent a major renovation in the early 1990s to become a professional-quality performing arts center.
“We’re hoping this inspires young artists as they’re in the hall to see what could be,” Dingwerth said.
Biographies of those featured on the mural will be featured online and in print, and RHS history students will update those biographies in future years.
Dingwerth said the murals also honor Richmond’s industrial legacy, because the county’s arts organizations “wouldn’t be where they are without industry,” such as Hill’s Roses and Richmond Baking Co.
Although Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Andrés Lopera, has already conducted a few concerts here, the Creative Vision event offers him an opportunity to connect more directly with area residents in a live interview and Q&A session.
Lopera, who also is associate conductor of the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony and music director of the Columbus Youth Symphony Orchestra, hopes to intertwine Richmond’s history with RSO’s current programming and inspire the next generation of composers and players, said Monica Koechlein, RSO’s executive director.
A version of this article appeared in the January 31 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.