AHS student's mural gets final OK

More than six months after starting her journey through Ashland's public art process, student Nicole Shulters can begin painting a mural in Enders Alley downtown after winning final permission from the Ashland Historic Commission.

The commission unanimously approved her mural plan on Wednesday night.

Shulters spent months on back-and forth talks with the Ashland Public Arts Commission, then thought she had final permission to paint the mural after it was approved by the Ashland City Council on Feb. 21. But city staff members found they had overlooked a step in the process and Shulters needed to go before the Historic Commission.

An Ashland High School student, Shulters went through the public art process and will paint the mural for her senior project.

City staff members said she maintained a positive attitude through the long process. Shulters is not only a student going through a process that many adult artists find daunting, but she will be the first person — whether student or adult — to paint a public mural since the city loosened its restrictive rules on public art in 2009.

Neighbors and business owners around Enders Alley, which intersects with Second Street, had mixed reactions to Shulters' design that called for black skyscrapers with a red sky.

Some said it was too moody and urban, while others said it would enhance the alley.

After consulting with Public Arts Commissioners and nationally known muralist Robert Beckmann, Shulters made changes that included adding hills to her design. She said she also plans to tone down the red sky.

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