Hello again: Greetings Tour muralists return to Sandusky

When strong winds destroyed the Sandusky State Theatre building in June 2020, it took more than just a piece of history away from the city. It also took away a favorite photo op spot for locals and visitors alike, the Greetings Tour mural, which celebrated the city’s unique qualities in a postcard mural. The mural was a part of the downtown landscape for two years before the destruction of the theater forced it to come down as well.

With the highly anticipated reopening of the State Theatre also comes a new mural, albeit in a new location. This time around, the Greetings from Sandusky mural will find a home on the Mylander Pavilion at the Jackson Street Pier.

We had a chance to talk with Victor Ving, one half of the Greetings Tour team. He and partner Lisa Beggs soon will return to Sandusky to design a new-and-improved mural, adding to the duo’s more than 65 official Greetings Tour murals across 28 states (the couple has created the most murals in Ohio since that’s Lisa’s home state).

The Helm: How do you feel about coming back to Sandusky for another mural?

Victor Ving: We are excited to come back to redo the "Greetings from Sandusky" mural. Since its original creation, we've learned a lot and we're looking forward to showcasing the new and improved version this time. The Greetings Tour project has grown a lot and to be able to scale with all the travel–we've built an amazing team. Together, I think we are able to do some amazing work with a lot more attention to detail than previously. 

During the pandemic, we watched the Sandusky State Theatre get damaged from the storm on national news from afar. It was heartbreaking considering the recent renovations. Miraculously, our mural was almost untouched, but they had to remove it for structural reasons during the clean up. Seeing images of the mural amidst the debris felt symbolic of the community's resilience during challenging times. Rebuilding and enhancing it now feels like a fitting tribute.

Also, what better time to redo this with a total solar eclipse passing over that we will never see again in our lifetimes! We will definitely make sure to add a little easter egg tribute to this moment in the artwork.

The Greetings Tour painted the first mural in 2018.TH: Will this mural be the same design and size as the last one on the State Theatre?

VV: The new mural is going to be located at the Mylander Pavillion and due to the available wall space, we will be scaling it down to fit. Although it's smaller, it's actually going to work much better for interactive photo ops. The public can get a much closer look at the details as the overall size is going to be about 10' ft x 20' ft at ground level. Using spray paint, it's actually more difficult for us to paint on a smaller scale. 

We also learned from the last incident to paint this on archival panels so that it can be moved in case of any future structural issues or repairs to the building.

The imagery within the letters will all remain the same but with much better quality as we've gotten a lot better technically as artists. The original had become such an iconic piece that we made sure to keep the integrity of it. We updated the overall layout slightly and added some of the new rides and buildings to the Cedar Point skyline since 2017. Aesthetically, we think that the new design looks much better and we're excited to reveal it to everyone.

TH: What do you think of the new location for the mural?

VV: When we were there in 2017, the pier wasn't even developed yet. Just like the previous location at the state theater, we have full trust in the city for picking the best new home for this piece. The beauty this time around is that we can relocate it if ever needed.

TH: How long will the project take?

VV: A mural this size would typically take about a week to complete with a team of 2-3 artists. We use a process called "pouncing," which is the same method as the traditional billboard painters. This way, we are able to prep a lot of the work off-site since we now have an actual studio to work from. Quite the upgrade from our RV "studio" in the past! To be honest, I'd say a lot more time is spent on the pre-production end of things to ensure a team can work together as efficiently as possible on site.

Weather also plays a huge part in the painting of our murals. We're usually painting in the North from spring to fall and then working on projects in the wintertime down South. There's been times where we are just waiting out bad weather for days. For this new mural in Sandusky, we're setting up the canvas panels at an indoor site since we're trying to have this completed in time for the eclipse without any weather delays. We're hoping it's also a clear day for the eclipse itself–fingers crossed!

TH: What do you remember most about your last time in Sandusky?

After we finished the mural, we got a lake tour on a vintage Lyman to get some unique vantage points of Cedar Point and Sandusky. The locals were amazing hosts.

At one point, we did a Q&A with some 8th graders inside the State Theater about the importance of public art and how we make a living from the work we created while seeing the country. This truly made us realize the impact our project has on future generations. Their simple questions made us rethink our objectives and how we can communicate our goals more clearly. Also, now that we are parents, we have a whole new perspective on community and creating a culturally rich environment for the next generation.

TH: Is there anything else people should know about the project?

Our murals are unique in that we've been able to support local businesses in areas with a tourism incentive. Since these are part of a nationwide project, we've started a "wall of fame" on our website for people who get photos in front of 10+ murals. We give these top travelers various gifts and custom artwork for their support. Our only ask is that they support a local business nearby the mural. Right now, we have some folks who have gone out of their way to visit almost 40+ murals, which is very impressive! You can see the wall of fame on our site at https://greetingstour.com/wall-of-fame.