Room with a view

Three young girls and two cats were the inspiration for a painted mural placed in the upper level of a local downtown shop.
Thrifty Treasures, 117 W. Auglaize St., Wapakoneta, has a special touch in the windows above their shop thanks to students in the Wapakoneta High School Art Club.
This project was arranged through the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership (DWP), as they worked with Thrifty Treasures owners Donna Parsons and her sister, Lisa Schott.
Parsons dropped off three pieces of plywood to Wapakoneta High School art teacher Suzanne Temple, and gave an idea of what she wanted the mural to portray. Temple and her students took the idea and turned it into something the owners loved.
“I picked a design, but didn’t tell Lisa,” said Parsons, who did not tell her sister because she wanted to surprise her. “She knew they were making us a mural, but thought they were going to pick the idea.”
Thrifty Treasures has two store cats, Sadie and Woody, and Parsons
knew she wanted them to be in the artwork, along with Schott’s three granddaughters, who were around at the beginning stages of the shop’s opening in 2011.
“When we started in 2011, we were trying to get situated, and we also baby-sat Lisa’s two granddaughters,” Parsons said. “So we put them in the front window with chairs and they would wave and smile at everyone going by.”
So Parsons knew she wanted the mural to have all three granddaughters, who are Nevaeh, 3, Bayleigh, 2, and Brooklynn, 1.
At the time the store opened, Nevaeh was 2 and Bayleigh was 1, but Brooklynn was not born yet — so Parsons, who wanted to include all children, improvised.
“I got onto the girls’ mother’s Facebook page and took a picture and gave it to Suzanne,” Parsons said.
Kirstin Franks, who is Schott’s daughter, and James Torivio are the parents of the three young girls.
Temple decided to continue with a Victorian theme, as that is the era of the murals in the upstairs windows of the Riverside Art Center and Your Jewelry Box.
“I sketched out the ideas on the panels, then a few of the Art Club students filled in with base coats on the black background and the white curtains,” Temple said. “Two students started the base coat for the cats.”
Temple then enlarged the photo of the little girls using an overhead projector, and one of the students sketched in the girls’ faces and then used gray to highlight the curtains.
“I, lastly, touched up some of the painting on the panels and added a lamp before we called Donna to come pick them up,” Temple said. “Because we worked on it during study halls and free time at school, it took us a few months to complete the project.”
When Parsons picked up the murals, she said she got emotional.
“When I saw the girls I gave Suzanne a hug,” Parsons said. “They have captured the girls’ personalities perfectly. They did such a great job.”
When Schott saw the murals for the first time, she had the same reaction as Parsons.
“I wanted to cry,” Schott said. “When she told me about it, I thought it was nice of her to think of them that way.”
Schott and Parson’s husband installed the murals last week, and since then, they have been taking customers, friends and family across the street so they can view the artwork above their shop.
“We put some pictures on Facebook, and have gotten 100 ‘likes’ on the pictures,” Schott said. “I’ve heard so many comments about them.”
Before Temple and her students started working on the murals, she told Parsons to keep an open mind, because they are only high school students working on the murals.
“I know they are only high school students, but they did fantastic,” Parsons said. “They are very talented kids. I had one person who thought the curtains were real.”
The curtains were painted on the mural by one of the students, and Parsons noted the spots of the actual cats were spot on in the painting.
“We cannot praise the art department enough,” Parsons said.
“We are all just so happy that Thrifty Treasures likes our finished look and thank the DWP for the opportunity to earn some extra money for Art Club,” Temple said.
DWP paid for supplies, and donated extra money to go toward a scholarship fund for the Art Club students.