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Barn mural draws on area’s quilting heritage

A unique mural on the side of a barn popped up after the August long weekend for people to view as they drive past Community Care Concepts office on the road between St. Jacobs and Elmira.

“It has brightened up my mornings – it reminds me of the culture and the climate that we’re in,” said Karla Rabidoux, manager of community programs at the agency.

Quilt-based project was inspired by property owners Tim and Karen Cronin. [Justine Fraser]

The mural is the handiwork of Christine Partridge, the first such project she’s ever carried out. It came at the suggestion of the buildings’ owners, Tim and Karen Cronin.

“Christine was walking by one day and Tim said to her, ‘do you want to paint a mural?’ and she said ‘I absolutely would love to.’ It’s her first time ever doing a mural, and when trying to choose what to put on it, Karen had a quilt as a child with that pattern and colouring in it.”

Karen Cronin grew up in the house that now serves as an office for Community Care Concepts. Tim renovated it eight or nine years ago to become the home for the agency. Before that it was a rural hardware store. They have a chicken coop and other farm features on the property that they enjoy visiting on their breaks.

“This was just another way of brightening up things and recognizing the culture around us and the difficult time that we’ve had during COVID. As an essential support service, we worked all the way through this so we did just about everything we could – from little cookie craft jars to dropping off COVID bags and casseroles – and we always support local whenever we can. We did a lot of that, and it’s just been a lot of camaraderie here, a few of us on our lunch break were sitting out watching Christine while she painted – it was just another way of bringing our team together,” said Rabidoux.

Partridge has been a day program assistant with Community Care Concepts for more than two years. The barn is her first mural, but she hosts several art programs for her clients.

“Karen, she’s Tim’s wife and she grew up on that property, she mentioned she liked when barns had quilt squares. And her grandma made her a broken star quilt and she used it until it was in scraps, and she had one other one that a girl made that’s the same pattern. So, it’s a nice kind of dedication to her,” said Partridge of the inspiration behind her creation.

Partridge learned how to use a tractor bucket to reach the high places while painting the mural on the barn. It took her 25 hours to paint it over the span of the long weekend in August. She captured her progress using a time lapse video so she could show her clients.

“The Cronin family was painting the door just white, and as a joke Tim said, ‘Are you an artist, do you want to paint a mural?’ And I always wanted to do one, so I went for it,” added Partridge.

The mural can be viewed easily from Arthur Street, but it has also helped to brighten the day of the people that work at Community Care Concepts or visitors, Rabidoux noted she’s already had several positive comments from Meals on Wheels volunteers.

“We love it. A lot of our clients and people who come by are just fascinated by it, especially the Mennonite community – I think it meant a lot to just do something that’s such a big part of their culture,” said Rabidoux.

“We have her and a number of other staff who have done the most creative artsy things – we have another girl who does signs for everybody and things like that, so I’m really thankful and on behalf of my executive director Cathy Harrington, we both would want to thank all of our staff for all the creativity and ideas that we bring to the table to serve the clients in the township,” said Rabidoux

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