Dafford shares perspective on murals

June 20, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

The Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce presented a “breakfast on us” in cooperation with the Center for Appalachian Philanthropy and Main Street Portsmouth, which featured muralist Robert Dafford.

During the event he shared his perspective on how the Portsmouth Murals came to be.

“I think a big part of why my murals are liked so much is because they have something of you (Portsmouth) in them. When we first started the project, we organized a committee of people who were interested in the work and within that committee we organized subcommittees to handle historical research, funding, housing, transportation, paint and various other aspects,” Dafford said.

He said part of the committees responsibility was to determine what was going to be painted on the floodwall.

Dafford said once the first few murals were complete, people began to see the larger vision of the flood wall was.

“When we finished the first few murals and the committee said we would like you to do the entire project. I looked all the way down the wall and in my head I’m thinking in my head, what if it flops?” Dafford said. “That year I had commissions (for paintings) in Colorado, Paris, France, Canada and various other places. I knew I was going to have to give up a lot of stuff to take on a project this big. I thought about it for a while and I don’t know what moved in me but I said yes, and that was the most exciting thing I’ve jumped into.”

He said the mural project started in 1993.

Dafford said the first mural that was painted was a picture of Portsmouth in 1903 from the Kentucky side of the river, with others to follow.

“By the time we finished the third mural everyone was convinced this was a good idea and people were starting to see the vision,” Dafford said.

He said about four years into the Portsmouth project he was invited to make presentations in other cities about the possibility of doing similar projects.

Dafford and his team are currently working on a new mural on the Scioto County Welcome Center next to the Portsmouth Floodwall Murals of the Portsmouth Public Library.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.