Drive through downtown Euclid on any sunny day, and you might catch artist Margaret Garbincus hard at work on the city’s newest piece of public art.
The eye-catching welcome sign, “Greetings from Euclid,” will be a mural in the shape of a postcard, depicting iconic scenes Margaret Garbincusdrawn from her childhood memories. A lifelong resident of Euclid, Garbincus is celebrating her 50th birthday with this nostalgic public art project—and donating 300 hours of painting time to make it happen.
“I’m including my favorite memories of growing up in Euclid,” says Garbincus, “like the Euclid Public Library, Our Lady of the Lake, the [movie] theater, and Paul Serra Field.”
Though the mural was intended to be a labor of love, Garbincus was honored when the City of Euclid asked to purchase her mural design to produce postcards and other products for sale. Initially, the completion of the mural was slated to coincide with the Euclid Art Walk on Sept. 13, but weather and approval delays postponed the mural’s debut until 2020. As a preview, colorful postcards of her mural design were produced and distributed at the art walk event.
This isn't the first mural to be associated with the Euclid Art Walk, as Keep Euclid Beautiful (a committee initiated by Mayor Kirsten Holzheimer Gail) orchestrated a community-painted mural known as "Art Alley" at the event in 2018. Part of the committee's mission is to beautify the city through art, and following the success of that project, Keep Euclid Beautiful helped connect Garbincus with the building owner to make the postcard mural happen.
Now that the painting process is in motion, the Euclid High School art teacher has enlisted several of her students to help, guided by sections of the mural that are numbered to correspond with specific colors. “Students can help block in colors, while I handle the blending,” says Garbincus. “I love acrylic paint. If anyone makes a mistake, I just paint over it.”
The wind can be strong coming off the lake across the street, so Garbincus and her students paint on calm, sunny days. While the painter balances on scaffolding, she mixes multiple shades in a palette container with a paintbrush; only a brush can reach into the deep grout between the bricks.
“Because this project is color-rich, I work in quarts. I always have three or four brushes in my hands and have 30 colors to choose from,” says Garbincus.
Garbincus' work at Euclid Public LibraryTo secure 30 quarts of paint and other necessities for the mural, Garbincus called on local allies for donations. Keep Euclid Beautiful purchased paintbrushes and other supplies, and the committee also connected Garbincus with Brian McGarry, who secured the donation of PPG Paint. McGarry and Sons donated the professional scaffolding.
This isn’t Garbincus’ first go-round at making Euclid a more colorful place. In 1999, she designed and painted her first mural—the garden-themed Story Time room in Euclid Public Library. In 2014, she painted several walls in the library's Teen section, making classics appear like graphic novels. The muralist credits her painting skills to her instructor, Eddie Mitchell, a faculty member at the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Garbincus hopes the “Greetings from Euclid” mural will continue to inspire young artists to enter the craft, especially in light of recent budget cuts.
“With our [school] levy not passing, we now have no art in the middle school and no music in the elementary school,” says Garbincus. “Public art is like an art gallery available 24 hours a day. I’m hoping to spark some conversations about art. I’d like my hometown to be a more artsy city, not in a pretentious way, but to use creativity to solve some of the problems we have here.”
In November and December, Keep Euclid Beautiful will be selling packs of postcards and holiday ornaments featuring the mural. Merchandise will be sold at Lake Shore Coffee House, as well as the holiday lighting event at Shore Cultural Centre on Dec. 6. Proceeds benefit Keep Euclid Beautiful.
The mural is located on the side of the Boost Mobile building near the intersection of East 222nd Street and Lake Shore Boulevard in downtown Euclid.
The final postcard/mural design
This article is part of our On the Ground - Euclid community reporting project in partnership with the City of Euclid, Euclid City Schools, Tri-C, and Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Read the rest of our coverage here.