Article by Larry Nagengast
Photography by Jennifer Corbett
BELLEFONTE — Best known a decade ago for its funky boutiques and resale shops, Bellefonte is now building a new reputation as an arts colony.
First came the annual Bellefonte Arts Festival, which has grown steadily in the last five years. Bellefonte Arts, a gallery and studio featuring up to 50 artists, opened in late 2011.
And now, to celebrate the town and help promote the recent festival, Bellefonte has its first outdoor mural, a bright, eye-catching salute to nature created by Nicole Kristiana Logan, an artist who lives in the north Wilmington town and sells her works online and through Bellefonte Arts.
Logan, who signs her works as Nicole Kristiana, took a week of vacation from her day job at Bank of America to paint the mural, about 12 feet high and 15 feet wide, in early May on the back wall of Michael’s Bellefonte Barber Shop, at the corner of Brandywine Boulevard and Marion Avenue, the town’s main intersection.
“It’s animals, highly patterned animals … animals you can find in Bellefonte – a squirrel, a rabbit, a fox, a blue jay, a cardinal, a puppy and a kitten,” Logan says.
The mural includes some Delaware themes, peach blossoms, a holly tree and a swallowtail tiger butterfly. In the center is a sparkling fountain, which, despite the town’s name, is something the nearly century-old community still lacks.
“Hopefully, the mural will inspire someone to want a fountain for the town,” Logan says.
Frank Holodick, owner of the barbershop, came up with the idea for a mural about three years ago. He talked with Valerie White, who runs Bellefonte Arts and the annual arts festival, and they decided to offer the project to a local artist. Logan’s name came up first, Holodick said, because he and his wife already have purchased some of her paintings.
“Frank didn’t give me any restrictions,” she says. “He just told me to do something in my style. Hopefully, it makes some people happy.”
Logan, 37, whose husband Ross is one of the town’s five commissioners, says she enjoys living in Bellefonte because “everybody helps each other out.” And she saw that happening during her eight days of spraying, dabbling and brushing 16 quarts of paint on the concrete and stucco wall.
“People kept bringing me drinks, offering me coffee, making sure they kept me hydrated,” she says. Motorists would drive by, slow down and smile, and people of all ages walking through town would stop, talk and check on her progress.
Drawing a little extra attention to the project was Logan’s “puppy” Barnaby, an 8-month-old, 95-pound poodle-golden retriever mix, who rested under an open canopy near the wall while Logan painted.
“The kids are loving it. They think it’s the greatest thing,” she says. “There was a little guy, about 2½ years old. He brought his grandma up to see it. He had to hug the squirrel.”