published: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Hahn's centennial mural dedicated to City
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - Several gathered at the sight of James Hahn's newest completed piece of artwork just before the Circle on North Ridgewood Friday afternoon. Hahn is best known for his Cabbage Patch Kids murals but has become well known in the Heartland for his gallery work.
Since October, Hahn and his wife Kay have worked for hours on end to create the perfect piece that will capture the essence of Sebring and the community's rich culture.
"As an artist, everything is a canvas to him (James). We kept passing by this huge white wall and my husband thought 'I've got to have that'," Kay said.
James agreed that the open space would be the perfect place to create a one-of-a-kind piece that will portray what is the heart and soul of Sebring.
"We'd come through town and I'd just see it. When we finally got it (the wall) I thought how to represent Sebring from the start to now," James said.
As the project began in early October, Hahn created the background and the backdrop not knowing fully yet what the mural would become. The fan that is placed at the top center of the wall posed a nice challenge for Hahn, though he tackled it with genius. (The mural was complete the first week of December.)
"He said to me 'what about a seaplane ...' We live on Lake Jackson and always see them landing. It was perfect," Kay said.
Once the first hurdle was behind them, James went on to fill in the wall with empty photograph frames not yet knowing what to fill them with.
After the background and big detailing was nearly finished, he was hit with more ideas on what would be the best additions to the piece.
"I didn't know what I wanted to fill those with when I started. It came to me as I worked, as the mural progressed," James said.
The plan worked out great. The first picture within the mural is a hand-painted photo of Sebring's founder, George Sebring, back in 1912. Following George Sebring's photo is a number of local "wonders" of which every resident is familiar - cattle, oranges, race cars and the current mayor of Sebring, George Hensley.
"I started with George and I ended with George," Hahn said with a laugh.
Hensley is portrayed riding in a convertible along the Centennial parade route.
"This spells out clearly the history of our city," Hensley said. "It says so much about our neighborhood and out community ... We've had an incredible year and I have a feeling this is the start of the next 100 years in Sebring."
The Hahns thanked a number of individuals who helped make the mural possible - Jen Brown, city of Sebring staff, Mike Carr, and Katie Eldridge, who donated the wall and gave the property to the Hahns for the mural. All those people and so many more were all a part of a beautiful piece of art that will become another part of Sebring's rich history.
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