Eagle Scout project honors Burchfield
SALEM — Visitors to the alley now known as Burchfield Trace behind the Timberlanes complex and McCulloch Park can see the vision of Salem’s famous watercolorist on display in the vibrant colors and vivid images of his paintings.
Six 4-foot by 8-foot panels featuring the artist’s work and biographical information have been mounted to the back wall of the Timberlanes building as part of an Eagle Scout project by Gray Buta of Troop 6 at St. Paul Church.
The point of the project was to not only clean up the alley but also commemorate and honor the artistry of Charles Burchfield, who grew up on East Fourth Street and put many a scene from Salem to canvas.
“I hope it improves Salem’s downtown, the night life, and cheers everybody up,” the 18-year-old Salem High School senior said.
Buta selected which paintings to reproduce on the panels and thought they looked nice. He said completing the project was satisfying and thanked Salem Preservation for being his beneficiary. He especially mentioned Ginger Grilli and David Schwartz for all their help and the help of his fellow scouts and friends, Eichler Construction for technical help, Butech Bliss, Timberlanes/Boneshakers, MacMillan Office Supply, the Burchfield Homestead Society and the Salem Historical Society and anyone else who donated.
He also had thanks for Salem City Council for agreeing to change the name of the alley to Burchfield Trace in honor of Burchfield. The alley is located between East State Street and East Pershing Street and stretches from Lincoln to Broadway, with most of his project in the section between Penn and Lundy.
“I think this is an outstanding edition for the community,” Salem Preservation President David Schwartz said. “Burchfield was one of Salem’s outstanding citizens not only because of his art but for what he gave back to the community in many different ways. The city has gathered around the spirit of Burchfield.”
Campbell Signs & Apparel of East Liverpool adhered the images to the metal panels. Schwartz said they were beautiful. He was impressed with the detail captured on the panels.
“They will catch your eye,” he said.
For anyone who has visited the museum at Burchfield’s boyhood home on East Fourth Street and seen prints of his paintings, the images chosen for display should look familiar. One of the actual paintings, “The Three Trees,” is on display at the Salem Public Library. Other selections include “Autumnal Fantasy,” “Sleet Storm,” “Past Noon,” “Main Street, Salem-Winter Day,” “Summer Afternoon,” “Four Seasons,” “Cardinals in Winter,” and “Cherry Blossom Snow.”
Gary Eichler, who helped with technical support and donated the use of tools, along with Jeff Daggy, commented how the project gives the kids involved an accomplishment, to be able to do something like this for the community. He was excited just to watch the big finish.
“This is great. Great for the community, great for the kids,” he said.
The Timberlanes Complex owned by Brooke and Brandy Pidgeon helped by having the back wall painted and allowing the murals to be mounted to the wall, praising and highlighting the completed project on social media.
Buta solicited the donations to cover costs associated with the project, with Salem Preservation collecting the donations and writing a check to pay for the murals from the donations. The cost was $2,100, but also included some donated supplies, advice and some free labor from his friends. The helpers who assisted in hanging the murals included fellow boy scouts Keegan Sommers and Stephen Baer and friends Sean Blake and Jess Paumier.
“I think this is really great that these kids are out here doing this. They’re really working hard. I’m so proud of them,” Salem Preservation secretary Jennifer Brown said.
Buta’s parents are Jock and Natalee and Jock said he was especially happy that he chose to do such a broad project that affects the broader population. He said it adds a beautiful aspect to downtown and he’s hoping maybe another scout will pick up and continue the project down the rest of the alley. He said the project required a lot of work to get it done on time. Buta turned 18 on Saturday.
Jock also serves as assistant scoutmaster, along with Eric Swiger, who also complimented Buta and his helpers for all the work put into the project.
“I’m very proud,” Jock said.