Columbia residents finish mural with art teacher’s help

Apr 29, 2014

Columbia residents showed up to help finish a 7-year-old mural on Saturday April, 26th, 2014. The mural is on the wall of the historic Heibel-March building on Range Line Street and Wilkes Boulevard in Columbia. Gennie Pfannenstiel, a former teacher at Central Methodist University, began the mural seven years ago. She stopped painting when she heard the building was supposed to be demolished. Pfannenstiel said she was happy to see her work finished.

“It is just so heartwarming to feel the spirit of community that was there seven years ago is here again now and even stronger,” Pfannenstiel said.

Pfannenstiel began working on the project with her CMU students and some families from nearby Field Elementary School. But, they were far from the most influential participants in the original project. Pfannenstiel said a little boy on a bike proved to have a big impact on the project.

“A little boy rode his bicycle by, and that little boy happened to be the member of the Moody family. And then he brought his brothers and sister over and then they became the family that was really interested in this project,” Pfannenstiel said.

The mural tells the stories of the older residents of the neighborhood, and Pfannenstiel said the Moody family played a large role in telling these stories.

“The neighborhood committee knew all the elders in the committee that we could interview and gather stories. So then we started interviewing them and gathering stories for the mural,” Pfannenstiel said.

But, Pfannenstiel’s project ended abruptly when she heard that the building was supposed to be demolished. Seven years later, a local art teacher picked up the project and helped finish telling the stories that Pfannenstiel started to tell.

Jessie Starbuck, an art teacher at Southern Boone Elementary School, heard about the project when she moved into the neighborhood.

“As an art teacher, I felt pretty obligated to step up and offer any support that I could give to finish the project,” Starbuck said.

She decided to offer this support in the form of a community-wide painting day on Saturday. She got all of Pfannenstiel’s original sketches and transferred them to the wall to help complete the mural. She invited members of the community to show up and help finish painting. But, she didn’t want to restrict their creativity. She said she was very appreciative of their creative input.

“I love that each person who has come to paint has brought their own perspective and their own ideas to the project. In fact, what I’ve noticed today is that when people are given a task, they take ownership of the task and then they feel sort of protective of that area of the mural,” Starbuck said.

She even gave paintbrushes to two young girls and told them to paint whatever they wanted on one corner of the mural. The head with the blue body on the bottom right corner of the mural is the creative work of these two girls.

Both Starbuck and Pfannenstiel said they were very happy with the turnout to help finish this historic mural.