Minerva graduate returns home to create captivating mural, dedication held

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A crowd begins to gather in Minerva Friday evening for the dedication of the Goddess of Minerva mural on Market St. Minerva High School graduate Matt Kress created the masterpiece in one week.

By Carol McIntire


Minerva residents and officials had plenty to celebrate Friday night when a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark the completion of a new mural on the side of a building on Market St. facing US 30.

*The project was a collaboration between the village, Minerva Arts Commission and a Visit Canton.

*The event marked the completion of the first of two arts projects to be completed in 2022.

*It was the first large event since the village established a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), which includes W. Market St. from Lincoln Way to Line St. and High St. from Short to Main St. The DORA allows for beverages to be purchased at the Normandy Inn, Stoney Inn, Que Pasa and Sandy Springs Brewing Company and consumed anywhere in the parameters of the DORA.

*And, perhaps most importantly, the large crowd gathered in front of the 60-feet by 25-feet mural and celebrated one of the village’s own: 1994 Minerva High School graduate Matt Kress who created the masterpiece. 

Kress studied art at Kent State University before moving to Florida in 2013. He is known for his artistic talents and creating large scale murals, including one on the Florida Gulf Coast for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

“I’m a painter, not a speaker,” Kress said as he walked to the microphone to a large round of applause and cheers from the crowd.

“There is a sense of community here that is unparalleled,” he told the crowd. I am humbled to be around this group that supports the arts and humbled by the people who stopped by during the week and said thanks for doing the mural.”

The mural was made possible by funds from the village, Minerva Arts Commission and Visit Canton, all of which had representatives on hand to cut the ribbon. 

Kress said when the project was in the earliest stages and the group was tossing around ideas for the mural, the first thing that came to mind was something with a Lion, the school’s mascot. 

“Then Lizzie Streepler said, ‘Why not do the Goddess of Minerva, which was a great idea!” Kress said. 

The mural features the Roman Goddess, the goddess of wisdom, justice, law, victory and the sports of arts, trade and strategy, with several of her symbols, closely holding one of her symbols, an owl. 

Minerva Mayor Tim Tarbet admitted at first, he was one of those who really didn’t get the idea. 

“But, as I drove by every day and watched Matt work his magic, I can say I now get it,” Tarbet said. 

“As you step back and look at this mural, aren’t you in awe,” Tarbet asked the crowd. “I am proud you are from Minerva,” he said directing his comments at the artist. “This means that if you are a youth in the community and have a dream about what you want to do with your life, by watching Matt create this, they realize they too, can do what they want to in life.”

Tarbet thanked the community for stepping up and supporting projects like the mural, and Amanda and Andy Conrad, owners of Sandy Springs Brewing Company, for becoming a driving force in the community and for promoting more and more community events. 

“This is a start,” Tarbet stated. “This mural is going to become a background for a lot of memories for those who have pictures taken here.”

Diane Evans, president of the Minerva Arts Council, said the mission of the group is to keep the arts alive in southern Stark County, while Arts Council Vice President Amanda Conrad noted the project far exceeded expectations.  Alice Gromofzsy from Visit Canton said the funds came from a Destination Enhancement Grant. 

“This is truly a mecca of the hard work of all involved,” she said, adding, “We are excited to support projects like this.”

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