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Cuyahoga Valley National Park commissioning mural art near bridge

Ryan Ainger, Janice Matteucci, Lindsay Regan near the Boston Mills Road bridge
Kabir Bhatia
Ideastream Public Media
Ryan Ainger, Cuyahoga Valley National Park's program manager (left), Janice Matteucci, senior VP of strategic initiatives with the Conservancy for CVNP and CVNP Director of Park Experiences Lindsay Regan (right) are working together to commission a mural for the bridge abutment under Boston Mills Road.

An abutment to what was once called the “crybaby bridge” in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is now crying out for a new coat of paint. The bridge near the corner of Riverview and Boston Mills roads got its eerie nickname from howling winds and ghost stories. Today, it greets kayakers along the Cuyahoga River, near the Boston Mills Visitor Center.

Down below, layers of graffiti cover the concrete abutment, about the size of two garage doors.

“Where we’re standing is where we get some of the highest traffic and visitation for the national park,” said Ryan Ainger, CVNP program manager. “Unfortunately, years of vandalism is what they’re greeted with.”

The park service is working with the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park to commission a mural for the abutment. Ohio artists can submit a narrative of their qualifications, ideas and interest by May 6. A selection committee will announce finalists in July, with work slated to begin in September.

The theme, in conjunction with the park’s 50th anniversary, is “a wild urban refuge, reimagined.”

“We hope that the artists might explore what would a world look like where humans, wildlife, native plants all thrive in a healthy, balanced environment,” said Lindsay Regan, the CVNP director of park experiences.

Janice Matteucci is with the conservancy and said the goal is that once a mural is finished, it will discourage more vandalism. She said she is also hopeful that it’s the first of many similar projects.

“That is the dream,” she said. “That as you paddle along the Cuyahoga River, there would be that kind of beauty along the way: Things to reflect on and think about.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.