The LAND studio unveils the restored 1969 fresco “Life shares the same park bench”


As EARTH celebrated its 10e anniversary of the creation of public art and public spaces at the Cleveland Public Library Eastman Reading Garden on Saturday 9 October, the highlight was the unveiling of the recently restored “Life Shares the Same Park Bench” mural on East 9e Street and Superior Avenue — Originally created in 1969 by John F. Morrell, this was Cleveland’s first mural.

Commissioned by the mayor at the time Carl Stokes, the first black mayor elected in a major American city, the mural was intended to show the city’s dedication to brotherhood and social justice. The iconic mural, which presents different races, ages and sexes all sitting together, has been retouched over the years, the last time in 1993.

Tara Turner, Senior Director of Development and Communications at Studio LAND, said the recent restoration seemed like a great way to celebrate 10 years of Studio LANDe anniversary and its commitment to diversity, equity and camaraderie through public art.

“We haven’t touched it since 1993 and it looks so much better,” she said. “People just stop and watch it – it creates so much attraction. It looks great.

Alain giberson of Old Soul Sign Co., a small sign specializing in hand-painted signage and gold leaf lettering, was tasked with restoring and preserving the continuing message of the mural.

“If we can do something that continues to get that message out in a nifty way, then hell yeah,” Turner says. “Alan paints everything by hand and it’s graphics on another level – not everyone can do that. We were so happy that he signed up for this.

Giberson also worked on LAND studio’s Inner City Hues and Love Moons over Buckeye projects, as well as helped with artist Sam3 2018 mural on the Garret A. Morgan Water Reservoir on the Detroit Shoreway.

Funding for the restoration project was provided by the Millcraft Paper Company, Sherwin Williams, PNC, Baker, and other corporate and individual donors. Sherwin Williams supplied the paint and, says Turner, we were able to match the original colors exactly. The mural has been covered with an anti-graffiti topcoat.

Turner says the LAND studio completed the green space area as a pocket park, installing three new park benches and planting three trees. “They look really good,” says Turner. “The style matches the mural.”

The unveiling and grand opening of Saturday’s mural began at noon with remarks from LAND Studio Executive Director Greg Peckham; Assembly for the Arts CEO and Chairman Jeremy Johnson; President and CEO of CLC Stokes Consulting Group and Carl Stokes’ youngest son, Cordell Stokes; and Morrell’s daughter, Katy Panasiewicz. Morrell died in 2010 at the age of 77.

In addition to Panasiewicz, Morrell’s son John Jr. and Morell’s sister attended the dedication on Saturday. “The Morrell family weren’t nice about it, and they all come,” says Turner. “We are so happy that they are here.

After the dedication, an afternoon of family activities was organized, including roller skating, crafts, yoga, additional art and food.

Land studio continues its 10e birthday with Land, when you can get a “Live is Sharing the Same Park Bench” print or t-shirt to support the organization.

About Nell Love

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