By Denise Allabaugh, Wilkes-Barre Citizens’ Voice
WILKES-BARRE — Artists have turned downtown Wilkes-Barre into a “window wonderland.”
About 20 local artists have painted the windows of more than 20 businesses.
The painted windows boost Christmas spirit and bring a sense of nostalgia to shoppers, said John Maday, president of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association, which leads the “Window Wonderland” project.
“We constantly hear people say they liked the way downtown Wilkes-Barre looked when there were store displays in windows. We said, ‘Let’s see if we could replicate that by painting the windows,’” Maday said. “It gives you that feeling of what it looked like in Wilkes-Barre before. You get that nice warm feeling, that holiday feeling. People appreciate it.”
Leonardo Ray Davenport of Nanticoke, a painter for more than 35 years, was among the local artists who volunteered to paint the windows.
On Geisinger Health Plan’s building on Public Square, he painted a tribute to Valley Santa in honor of the charity that ensures children in need throughout Luzerne County have Christmas presents.
He also volunteered his time to paint the windows of Bottlenecks Saloon & Eatery on South Main Street and Mimmo’s on Public Square for free, and he painted Curry Donut’s windows on Public Square as a commissioned job.
Davenport said children who visit downtown Wilkes-Barre enjoy seeing the artists painting characters on windows.
“I think it’s great to allow artists to feature their work on Public Square. It brings more attention to Public Square and hopefully, people who go into those businesses get some gratification out of that,” Davenport said. “I think it gives other businesses incentive to do something like this.”
Mark Bronsburg, owner of Mimmo’s Pizza, said Davenport did a “fabulous job.” In previous years, high school students painted his windows, he said.
“People who come in like the fact that the windows are done. People take pictures of them,” Bronsburg said. “I don’t know if it helps business but if it draws someone because of the windows, that’s fine with me. It helps to start the holiday season in a more pleasant way. I find it helps put people in a better spirit and a better mood.”
Steve Husted, who owns Knot Just Any Day in downtown Wilkes-Barre, and his staff also painted windows.
Husted and his studio manager Deanna Jones painted the window on the Edward Jones’ business on Public Square and his staff painted the windows of Musical Energi on South Main Street and King of Kings Gyros on Public Square.
Husted is part of the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association and, he said, after talking to Maday, “We said, ‘Let’s rally the troops and get a lot of territory done quickly.”
“We are all artists so it was neat to change hats. Instead of photos, graphic design and video, we picked up paintbrushes,” Husted said. “It’s great to work with the businesses. Sometimes, they have ideas and we ask what’s the message they want.”
The Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association provided supplies and a number of artists donated their time, he said.
“It’s a wonderful thing,” Husted said. “It helps pretty up the downtown when a lot of people are buying things from local businesses during the holiday season.”