The Ewell Gantz Playground, located on the corner of South Christian and North Streets was dedicated in 1996. It was dedicated to Henry Norwood “Barney” Ewell, a local Olympic athlete, and Ida Gantz, an active community member. Both were strong, well-known members in Lancaster’s Southeast community. The Ewell Gantz playground is situated in the heart of Southeast Lancaster City. It is a residential corner where children live and frequent on a daily basis. It is next door to Arbor Place, an after school program for kids and teens.
Last year, the Public Art Advisory Board and the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design (PCA&D) collaborated on a mural commemorating both figures. Senior PCA&D illustration students Tylor Heagy, Danny Morgan and Nicole Cruz-Ramos, along with Jonathan Yeager, a PCA&D alumni and adjunct instructor in the illustration department, created a series of images which were tweaked, critiqued and ultimately chosen by local residents. Tylor Heagy created the final design using elements from each of the artists’ works.
Heagy said prior to the project’s conception, he had not heard of Ewell or Gantz but saw, “it was immediately clear how inspirational and giving each of them were.”
He continued to discuss the collaborative working process, working with two other artists, an instructor and the neighborhood's suggestions saying, “It has been an amazing experience to work with such a strong team. We thrive off of each others’ work. This energy also comes from the community. Their feedback and opinions were strong contributions to what the mural looks like today.”
His favorite part has been meeting the children in the community to get their opinions. “It’s always humorous how blunt and honest a child can be. Don’t get me wrong though, their feedback was some of the strongest."
Heagy is a 2014 graduate of the BFA degree program in illustration at PCA&D, a graduate of Warwick High School, and a military veteran.
The mural was painted with the help of Two Dudes Painting Company, The Mix at Arbor Place, Shah Properties, and Hamilton Distributing Company. Funding was provided by Wells Fargo and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
By Joshua Graupera, Public Art Advisory Board