PARKERSBURG - The Parkersburg High School class of 1961 will celebrate its class reunion this weekend in style.
An 11-foot by 7-foot mural, painted by West Virginia University at Parkersburg student Lori Hudson, will serve as the backdrop for the PHS class reunion at Worthington Golf Course Ballroom.
The canvas mural depicts the Fat Boy drive-in, a popular hangout spot in the 1960s, with a turquoise 1957 Chevy parked in front. The painting was commissioned by 1961 graduate Gary Headley of Lakeland, Fla.
Photo by Natalee Seely
Lori Hudson, a student at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, stands next to the canvas mural she painted for the 1961 Parkersburg High School class reunion this weekend.
"We wanted a special backdrop for the reunion. All the teenagers used to cruise in to Fat Boy drive-in at the traffic circle. It was the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night," said Headley. "I wanted to pay tribute to that time in our lives and represent that drive-in as a meaningful place for this class."
Headley called WVU-P in April to find someone willing to create the mural. Art professor Beth Cox suggested Hudson, a student in her painting and drawing classes.
"Beth thought it would be a nice thing to do for the community," said Hudson, who is pursuing a degree in elementary education. "There were supposed to be four other students working on it with me, but there were a lot of time constraints for them, so it ended up being just me."
Hudson spent several weeks planning, sketching and gathering materials before beginning to paint the canvas. She worked on the project every day for three weeks.
She used an old black-and-white photograph of Fat Boy drive-in for inspiration.
"I tried to create that vintage soda shop look," she said. "I had a lot of fun with it."
The WVU-P painting studio served as her work space.
"I was a little nervous about taking on the project by myself, but Beth came in every day to encourage me and check on my progress," said Hudson. "She's really helped me grow as an artist."
The painting will adorn the wall of the Worthington Golf Course Ballroom tonight and Saturday. It will then be donated to WVU-P to use for backdrops in theater productions.