What started as an idea to visually improve the village of Batavia with its first set of quilt barn paintings, turned out to be a project involving and impacting many.
“It was just a magical conversation and in nine short months the project is here,” Stephanie Wyler, Clermont County Juvenile Court judge, said. “A true testament of what four women with a vision could do.”
The vision for the project began when Kathy McCoy-Leone was taking a walk through the village and passed the old barn and parking lot on the corner of Third Street and North Street.
McCoy-Leone said she thought the county-owned lot could be used for something to benefit the community. When she brought up the idea to Sally Fox, a friend and art teacher, Fox started brainstorming an art project for the barn.
“Clermont County is one of the few that didn’t have a quilt barn trail,” Fox said.
So she contacted a few people and got the idea rolling, hoping to not only put the first quilt barn patterns on a barn in Batavia, but also begin a quilt barn trail and continue the tradition throughout the county.
The next step was finding artists to paint the quilt barn. The women partnered with Erin Carrington, life skills trainer and art therapist for the Clermont County Juvenile Probation program, and got permission from Judge Wyler to allow 24 juveniles from the detention center to contribute to the project.
“That’s what the whole process was about,” Judge Wyler said. “Not only beautifying Batavia, but involving the kids.”
After Judge Wyler and her husband hosted a wine tasting party to raise the $2,500 for materials, the group got started on the project. Carrington said they decided to theme the paintings around the Underground Railroad, which was fitting since the National Underground Railroad Conference was held in Clermont County the same week.
“The designs are actual quilt designs off of quilts in the Civil War era,” Carrington said. “We hadn’t originally planned to do the designs but when we knew they were going to be here we kind of collaborated.”
The five paintings were featured multi-colored quilts entitled the Underground Railroad, the North Star, Yankee Pride, Lincoln’s Platform and the Barbara Fritchie Star.
Judge Wyler said the kids enjoyed painting the quilts so much, that some of them even volunteered after their community service ended, so they could help finish the project for the conference.
“I think it just made it all the more meaningful,” Carrington said. “The idea behind the symbolism is meaningful for the kids too. With some of them being incarcerated, they were able to identify with what slaves were going through.”
In addition, the quilt paintings, as well as the landscaping done by Pure Scapes, helped improve a little piece of the village for residents.
“I just think it is a wonderful addition to the village,” Barb Haglage of the Village Association of Batavia said. “It’s the perfect spot for something like this. Hopefully it will bring people into the village.”