Rivers of Steel Arts is looking to brighten up downtown Brownsville by installing large murals along Market Street in the downtown area.

The “Young Explorers” mural was created by Pittsburgh artist Marlana Adele Vassar and installed on the newly built apartments, Iron Bridge Crossings, at 5 Market St. on Monday by Vassar, Chris McGinnis, director and chief curator of Rivers of Steel Arts, and Brownsville Mayor Ross Swords.

“I think it turned out very beautiful,” said Swords, who has been involved with the project since its inception more than a year ago, but said the real thing is so much better than the samples he saw throughout the process.

Swords said he loves how the Brownsville’s past is incorporated into the design. A lot of longtime Brownsville residents will recognize the scenes depicted on the mural, he said.

That was the point, according to Vassar.

“It’s supposed to be a juxtaposition of old meets new,” said Vassar, who said the painting of the murals took approximately a month to complete.

Seeing it up on the building, Vassar feels very accomplished.

“It’s so wonderful to actually see it up. Getting to the end of the project sometimes is the hardest part.”

The whole mural is comprised of six individual murals that come together to create Vassar’s overall vision.

According to Vassar, the mural should last between 10 and 20 years before retouching is necessary.

A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Vassar is largely self-taught as an artist and uses a philosophy of balancing style and substance, according to her website. Using figures as primary subjects, she weaves symbolism and surrealism throughout her art, creating images that are personal, yet open to interpretation.

Developed by Rivers of Steel Arts and the Brew House Association in partnership with Brownsville and TREK Development, the owner of the apartments, the project began while Vassar was enrolled in the Distillery 8 residency at BHA.

“She worked collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a concept that reflects the unique history of Brownsville and a positive vision for its future,” said McGinnis.

This murals project is part of the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, an initiative developed by Rivers of Steel, which aims to strengthen the economic and cultural vitality of the Monongahela Valley by working together with creative professionals and communities to establish the region as a thriving destination to live, work and play.

Funding for the project was made possible by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

The murals are affixed on two elements of the newly constructed TREK building, but there are several other places on the building where additional murals could be placed. McGinnis said if the company is satisfied with the look of the murals that perhaps more could be planned as an additional project.

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