Students paint downtown

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, November 17, 2011

From left, King’s Fork High School seniors Tyler Hearns, Levi Matthews and Deshawn Goodman put the finishing touches on the holiday window display they created at The Plaid Turnip for the Paint the Town event Thursday.

There’s a new patron of SWET Fitness on North Main Street. He’s tall, buff and handsome, but he better watch himself in the hot gym — he might melt.

Frosty the Ripped Snowman has come to downtown Suffolk, but it wasn’t an old hat that brought him to life.

Instead, it was a group of gifted art students from King’s Fork Middle School.

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With a steady hand, eighth-grader Joshua Durham painted the snowman with a six-pack on the windows of the Main Street business as part of the Paint the Town event, during which city art students decorate the windows of business for the holidays.

At SWET, Joshua was working alongside four other King’s Fork Middle students, including Gina Kissell, who said she was thrilled to be a part of the event.

“It’s really cool because not many kids get to do this,” she said. “There are only five kids from King’s Fork Middle here, so it’s really cool.”

This is the 11th year the Downtown Business Association has partnered with the city and schools to put on the event, and this year, more than 55 elementary, middle and high school students are offering their skills and making creations centered on a theme of “A Storybook Christmas.”

The middle and high school students completed their displays Thursday at six businesses, and the elementary students will paint another six businesses on Nov. 30.

Kissell said she was excited about their display, which featured a fit gingerbread man and the snowman lifting weights in a wintry scene.

“I like doing cartooning, so it’s really fun (for me),” she said. “I like funny comic stuff.”

King’s Fork Middle art teacher Sandee Darden said she thinks the opportunity to display their art is great for the students’ confidence, but it also exposes them to creating art for clients.

“They aren’t creating art for themselves, but for the public,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them.”

Down the street from the middle schoolers, King’s Fork High School students were decking out the windows at The Plaid Turnip with their creations.

Ed Beardsley, the owner of The Plaid Turnip, said he jumped at the opportunity to participate in the Paint the Town event again after joining it last year.

“I love decorating for Christmas anyway, and we love to promote local art,” he said. “It’s great to have the kids in here.”

Last year, Beardsley said, the elementary school students assigned to his business decided to use turnips in their design.

This year, the high schoolers continued the tradition by creating a display featuring caroling turnips, turnips building a snowman and a grandfather turnip reading to baby turnips.

King’s Fork seniors Levi Matthews and Tyler Hearns said they were glad they were selected to help with the art display.

“You’re leaving your mark on a building,” Levi said.

Tyler added, “It’s like you are a graffiti artist, but you don’t get in trouble for it.”

To see the middle and high school art, visit:

  • Baron’s Pub, Corner of Market and North Main streets
  • Suffolk Public Schools Administration Office, 100 N. Main St.
  • The Plaid Turnip, 115 N. Main St.
  • Subway, 165 N. Main St.
  • SWET Fitness, 143 N. Main St.
  • The Virginian-Pilot, 157 N. Main St.

The elementary school students’ art will be on display beginning Nov. 30 at the following businesses:

  • Suffolk News-Herald, 130 S. Saratoga St.
  • Sun Trust Bank, 123 N. Main St.
  • BB&T, Corner of Washington and North Main streets
  • Wells Fargo, Corner of Market and North Main streets
  • Bank of America, 210 W. Washington St.
  • Select Source, 127 E. Washington St.