When the curtain dropped on Paducah’s new mural Wednesday, onlookers found it easy to confuse floodwall for fabric.
The unveiling of “Corona II: Solar Eclipse” — an 8-by-10-foot quilt mural by local artist Char Downs — took place during the first day of Fall QuiltWeek at the Schroeder Expo and Carroll Convention centers.
The mural captures the wrinkled forms of a quilt well-loved. A few people lightly touched the floodwall without thinking, as if to be sure the surface was paint, not fabric.
Hope Mueller of Sharon, Ohio, said, “This looks just like fiber.” A quilter since 2000, she added: “Part of what makes it for me is that similar texture when you wash a quilt for the first time.”
Downs’ work is the first in the series of Quilt USA Murals.
In five to 10 years, seven artists will paint roughly 30 quilt murals on adjacent floodwall panels facing the Julian Carroll Convention Center on Park Street.
Mayor Brandi Harless attended the unveiling. The project was the brainchild of Harless’ predecessor, former Mayor Gayle Kaler.
“I don’t think I understood how real it was going to look,” Harless said. “It’s exciting to think that the wall protecting our city is a mixture of our artistic and quilting communities.”
“Corona II: Solar Eclipse” is a replication of an original quilt by Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, a once-prominent Paducah artist, that won the Paducah American Quilter’s Society “Best of Show” honor in 1989.
Downs said it took more than 600 hours to paint the mural in her studio before it was applied to the floodwall panel.
The original now resides in the National Quilt Museum.
Paducah artist Cynthia Hubble, who attended Wednesday, has been selected to complete one of the follow-up murals.
“When combining two forms, you have to really get into each stitch that…