• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Using his artistic talents to support ,mission of Spark Café

Painting a mural on a dining room wall at Spark Community Café was an opportunity for Woodford County High School graduate Brad Praria to use his artistic talents to support the mission of a pay-what-you-can nonprofit restaurant in his hometown. Praria, who painted the 9-by-5-foot mural over nine days in late-August, says “Dining for All” remained the centerpiece of the project throughout his creative process. “What better place to (donate my talents) than for somebody that’s giving back to the community,” says Praria, 20. The freelance artist says he was looking for a big project to do during his summer break from Savannah College of Art and Design when Tristan Ferrell reached out to him about painting the mural. “People love it,” says Ferrell, co-executive director of the Spark Community Café board. “When they come in here, it definitely grabs their eye … it’s a great conversation piece for people.” Praria’s mural is also a reminder that there are some very talented artists in Woodford County, he adds. “We’d talked about doing a mural in here for a long time,” says Ferrell, also a WCHS grad. “But I didn’t want to go too far out of the circle of artists that I’ve heard of locally … “If we can include local art in here, then we should include local art in here.” The final element of the mural was two arms – one coming from Spark and the other from the farming community – extended for a handshake. “That was really what brought it together,” says Praria. “That was really the attention-grabber the day I was painting that. Surprisingly enough, it was the easiest thing out of all of the things that are up there to get done. I got that done in a day.” Using montage techniques in his mural allowed Praria to depict many aspects of Spark Community Café’s mission to reach out to the food insecure with a hand up. The tractor and farmland in the mural (celebrating the farm-to-table aspect of Spark’s mission) will become more of a talking point when peak growing season arrives, Ferrell says. Looking back on the experience of painting a mural during open hours at Spark Café, Praria says he rarely realized when people were watching him. “Once I’m in the zone,” he explains, “it’s kind of hard to lose focus. They’d have to tell me to stop and eat – every now and then.”

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