By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
After months in the making, the painting of celebrated minister gospel composer Rev. Charles Tindley on the side of Bruder Hill in downtown Berlin is officially underway.
Muralist Jay Coleman started the freestyle mural on Monday, just five days before it is scheduled to be unveiled on Saturday.
“We’re just going to get it on the wall and see what happens,” Coleman said of deciding to grid the mural first. “The bricks help. They can be used as reference points. Once I get my bearings and everything is worked out that way, then it’ll go a lot faster.”
As for the small window to get the mural done, Coleman simply said “It’s going to get done, man, rain or shine.”
He even suggested he would work through the night while standing on a lift, if that is what it takes to complete the painting.
The Berlin Town Council first approached Coleman about painting a mural that honors Tindley last October.
Tindley was born in Berlin in 1851, though he is known primarily for his time in Philadelphia, where he moved after the Civil War.
Most notably, the reverend penned iconic civil rights hymns, “We Shall Overcome,” and “Stand by Me,” before dying at the age of 82 in 1933.
Coleman drove from his home in Washington, D.C. to Berlin, where he “had a good conversation” with town officials.
“We threw out some ideas,” he said. “We went around and around, about four rounds until we kind of decided on a final design. The first three just got knocked down and bumped around and the final one was unanimously voted on. That was a plus, and here we are finally getting started.”
Coleman has painted a few murals akin to the Tindley project, but he said this one is the most significant in terms of “big project, small town.” He added that it resonates with him and his background, having been born in a small town outside of Pittsburgh.
“I gravitate toward projects with some depth,” Coleman said. “It’s not just about the aesthetic. I don’t come from a graffiti background. I’m a painter and a sculptor. I do bronze sculptures. It’s really not about putting my name on walls or things like that. When there’s some historical depth to a project, those are the things I love because those are the things that contribute to the community long after I’m gone, long after the project is finished. It has something that gives it longevity.”
The dedication of the mural will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m.
This story appears in the print version of the Bayside Gazette on June 16, 2022.