Community painting days wrap up for second Steve Ditko mural

Oct. 6—Tavayah Rozier, Zakiyah Rozier and Zion Harris took their time on Wednesday to carefully paint panels of the newest Steve Ditko mural at Bottle Works in Johnstown's Cambria City section.

The trio of cousins from Johnstown put some of the last touches on the public art piece that will honor Ditko, a Johnstown native and comics legend who helped create iconic characters including Spider- Man and Doctor Strange.

Wednesday was the last public painting session for the mural. For nearly a month, community members have visited Bottle Works to lend a hand in creating the 93-foot-by-20-foot mural.

"We're all interested in art," said Tavayah Rozier, 10.

She and her cousins were visiting Bottle Works last Friday to explore the arts center's offerings when a representative invited them to participate in a public mural-painting session.

Tavayah Rozier said she enjoys the painting process because it's satisfying.

Harris, 11, agreed. He likes comic books, especially Spider- Man, and was surprised to learn of Ditko's Johnstown roots.

"These three are great," public art consultant Michael Allison said of the cousins. "They're doing a real good job."

The children were the first of the groups of three to five people that signed up for half-hour painting sessions from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

On Thursday, 36 students from Chestnut Ridge School District will visit the arts center to provide the final smatterings of paint. All that's left to do on the project after this week is to complete touch-ups and do the line work.

"The bulk of the painting may be done in the next 48 hours," Allison said.

Allison has overseen both of Johnstown's murals honoring Ditko and said the creation of the second has been a smooth process, with another enthusiastic outpouring of support from the community.

The first mural was installed this summer on the Washington Street side of the Stone Bridge Brewing Co. building at the corner of Franklin and Washington streets in downtown Johnstown.

The second mural was designed by California-based artist Javier Hernandez and features a wide selection of Ditko's characters from his nearly 70 years in the business, including DC Comics' The Question, Miss Eerie, Squirrel Girl and many more.

It also features an image of Ditko at his writing desk, with a quote summarizing his ideals as an artist.

Nathan Madison, Visit Johnstown multimedia specialist, helped work on the first mural and joined three of his colleagues on Wednesday to help finish the new mural.

"Being in the community, we wanted to support this effort to promote Steve Ditko," he said. "It's just really cool to know that he came from this area."

As a comic book fan, Madison said, he knew of Ditko, but the installation of the first mural inspired him to learn more about Ditko's decades of work.

He added that raising awareness of Ditko's cultural influence is great and the Washington Street mural, which features Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, "has been a great attraction" for the region.

The second mural is planned to be installed in the near future, weather permitting, on the Ace's side of Bottle Works' Tulip Building in Cambria City, Allison said.

Matthew Lamb, Bottle Works creative director, said the group is aiming to install the mural at the end of October, but he isn't sure that will be possible because of the recent cold and wet conditions. Still, he's excited and inspired to see another project finishing up.

Lamb said he's looking forward to what's next, not just in honoring Ditko, but also expanding on the city's new interest in murals.