In the near future, staff and visitors who use the stairwells at Bradford Regional Medical Center will be treated to a variety of colorful murals to make their exercise more enjoyable.

The murals will be painted in the stairwells through the collaborative effort of the medical center and the McKean County Arts Council, said Roger Peters, a member of the council and a volunteer at BRMC.

“The hospital wants to have some murals painted in the stairwells because they’re trying to encourage people to use the stairs rather than the elevators for health reasons.”

He said the arts council offered to oversee the project to promote the organization and to work with Oleg Gotchev, a professor from Bulgaria who specializes in mural painting and is visiting Kristin and Tim Asinger in Bradford. Gotchev had been a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in 2011, as well.

“Gotchev teaches the painting of murals and part of his work is studying the public psychology of murals,” Peters said.

Gotchev, who visited the medical center Saturday to look over two, four-story stairwells that will be painted during the endeavor, said he hopes the murals will start a trend in the Bradford area.

“I told Kristin (Asinger) last time, seven years ago, that Bradford needs mural paintings. Needs. This is my opinion as a professional,” Gotchev said emphatically. “It is a nice city, but very empty, on the buildings, there is no art or mural painting.

“It will improve tourism and everything,” he added. “The community will be much better.”

The professor further noted he will try to impress upon the Bradford community the importance of mural art in a town or city. He said murals not only display the cultures of a community, but also its history and political viewpoints. Beautiful art throughout a community can also draw in tourism, he added.

Gotchev said he will offer as much advice as needed for the project, as he has reviewed and studied murals all over the United States. Near the end of this week, he plans to travel from Bradford to San Francisco, Calif., to see the murals of that city. Specifically, he plans to visit the Precita Eyes Muralists projects through his host institution, the San Francisco Arts Commission. The 40-year-old organization is described as “an inner-city, community-based, mural arts organization … (with a goal) to enrich and beautify urban environments and educate the public about the process and history of community mural art.”

Gotchev said the Precita Eyes murals are found throughout the Bay Area, as well as internationally.

In addition to Peters, other arts council members on-hand for the hospital tour were Kristin Asinger, vice president: Greg Souchik, president and the main designer of the murals; and Rick Minard, Pitt-Bradford art professor who plans to help with the project.

Souchik said he plans to prepare sketches for the walls that can be reviewed by hospital officials and others involved before work is expected to begin this month.

“One of the first ideas we came up with is four seasons for four different floors, but that’s not set in stone, either,” Souchik said. “We want to get as many artists and people involved as we can” and will take suggestions.

Minard agreed and said the council is “trying to figure out ways to get more artists in the community involved by submitting sketches or participating in the project.”

For more information, send emails to info@mckeanarts.org or contact the arts council on Facebook at McKean County Arts Council.

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