Hilton graduate and mom create garden mural

By on July 31, 2017
Chlovia Loomis and her mom, Raquel Torres, sit atop a mural they painted in the Village of Hilton. The mural covers all four walls of the raised garden bed and features baby animals. K. Gabalski photo

Chlovia Loomis and her mom, Raquel Torres, sit atop a mural they painted in the Village of Hilton. The mural covers all four walls of the raised garden bed and features baby animals. K. Gabalski photo

A garden-related art project is bringing members of the Hilton community together and adding new beauty to a village neighborhood.

Village resident Karen Smith says she reached out to officials at Hilton High School last year looking to find a student who could paint a mural on a newly installed raised garden bed outside the front entrance to her home.

“I talked to one of the art teachers,” Smith remembers, who told her about a student who would be perfect for the job.

That student was Chlovia Loomis, a member of the Hilton High School Class of 2016, who late in her high school career had discovered the joy of painting.

“I always liked drawing and my mom is an artist,” Chlovia says. “Then after I did my first painting, I thought, ‘I love this.’”

Karen said she also contacted professional artists, but was not impressed with their attitude.

One professional questioned why Karen would consider a young student with limited experience. But Karen felt Chlovia was talented and needed an opportunity to practice and develop her skills. After Chlovia visited Karen for an interview, Karen decided to give the job to her.

The garden is filled with marigolds ... Karen says she will plant it with annuals so she can change it from year to year ... the front also includes a crescent moon and stars which glow at night. K. Gabalski photo

The garden is filled with marigolds … Karen says she will plant it with annuals so she can change it from year to year … the front also includes a crescent moon and stars which glow at night. K. Gabalski photo

Chlovia says she had completed a mural for someone she knows, but was nervous at first about creating something for someone she did not know.

Her mom, Raquel Torres, came to Karen’s home with Chlovia to, “help keep things going,” and the two ended up sharing the project.

Karen described her vision to them – a mural with baby animals in natural settings. She also requested specific images she knew her neighbors would enjoy. Ducks and a lily pond were included in honor of a neighbor whose son is a marine biologist, for example, and a rainbow was included for a little girl who lives across the street and loves rainbows.

“She saw it right away,” Karen says of the rainbow. Her young neighbor spotted it immediately when returning home after an outing and was delighted.

“I’m very happy with it,” Karen says.  “I like the swans the best.”

Bunnies and butterflies on another wall of the garden bed. K. Gabalski photo

Bunnies and butterflies on another wall of the garden bed. K. Gabalski photo

This was the first time mom and daughter had worked on a project together and they say they enjoyed the experience.  “It’s been amazing to watch her develop,” Raquel says of her daughter’s artistic abilities.

The two say they may work together again in the future. Raquel is a mural and faux-finish artist and also sells her sculptures on Etsy.

Chlovia and Raquel used acrylic paint on the concrete blocks, which were installed by a professional landscaper.  The artwork was then covered with a concrete seal.

The side of the mural facing the house includes a pond scene with ducks and swans. K. Gabalski photo

The side of the mural facing the house includes a pond scene with ducks and swans. K. Gabalski photo

The work began late last year and was finished earlier this summer. “It took a while, but we got to see how the paint would hold up through the winter,” Raquel and Chlovia say.

“I feel it translates well to the road,” Raquel adds, and says those living in the neighborhood are enjoying it.

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