Dafford returning for Portsmouth Library mural

April 29, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Louisiana artist Robert Dafford will return to Portsmouth this summer to create a new mural on the Scioto County Welcome Center next to the Portsmouth Floodwall Murals. Portsmouth Murals President Robert Morton spoke during a meeting of Portsmouth Rotary Club at Shawnee State University on Monday with news that Dafford will return June 1 to paint a mural of the Portsmouth Public Library.

“Robert has done quite a lot of study already because it’s been in the works for a couple of years,” Morton said. “It will be done in June, and it will be on the east-side of the Welcome Center building.”

According to Portsmouth Library Director Paige Williams, philanthropist industrialist Andrew Carnegie offered communities matching funds to help build a community library and gave $50,000 in 1901 to build the Portsmouth Library. She said there were 111 Carnegie-funded libraries built in Ohio and today only 61 are still operating as a library.

“The library and the library board are very excited at the prospect of being honored by being selected for the library to be on the wall,” Williams said. “The library is an integral part of this community since 1906 and we’re just very excited.”

Williams said she has already spoken briefly with Dafford about his ideas for the library mural, and said she will continue to be available to assist him with any research he needs.

According to the Portsmouth Murals website, Dafford has created more than 200 murals in the United States, Canada and Europe. Portsmouth Floodwalls are 20 feet high and extends for 2,090 feet along Front Street in downtown Portsmouth. The project began in 1993, when Dafford painted five walls recreating a collection of 1903 photographs from the Carl Ackerman Collection.

“Back then we had a lot of letters to the editors, a lot of criticism. They thought we were crazy. But once that mural was on the wall, all that criticism stopped,” Morton said.

Dafford continued the project, adding the Henry Massie mural depicting Massie mapping out the original city plans and then recreating a painting that hangs in the Scioto County Courthouse Law Library. Last summer Dafford was in Portsmouth painting the railroad station mural to the west-side of the Scioto County Welcome Center, and adding two new figures to the baseball mural.

Dafford will return June 1 to paint the Portsmouth Public Library on the east-side of the Scioto County Welcome Center.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.