As the fall Ohio air turned crisp, a mural of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima came to life decades and a world away from the famed Pacific battlefield. The mural, the dream and creation of artist Michael Sekletar, is the reproduction of Joe Rosenthal’s iconic World War II photograph on the side of an office building in downtown Amherst, Ohio. Sekletar’s mural honors the men and women who have served, and are currently serving, in the armed forces of the United States of America. He envisioned a memorial that would be shared by the community, visible for all to see and enjoy. But he could not achieve such an ambitious goal alone.
Sekletar’s dream became a reality when the City of Amherst approved the project and a local attorney offered the side of his downtown office building as the backdrop for the mural. After more than 500 hours of work by Sekletar and fellow artist Ryan Shannon, the mural, spanning 700 sq. ft. of the brick and concrete exterior wall, was almost complete. The final step involved selecting a long-lasting finish to protect the work of art.
Coatings To Protect Fine Art
Because of its outdoor location, the mural required a durable top coating that would withstand seasonal temperature changes and sun exposure as well as wind-driven rain and snow. Another important consideration was that the selected top coat needed to have the capability to protect against possible vandalism. For this reason, an “anti-graffiti” coating was necessary to seal the mural.
Enter Michael Beltz, an account executive with Sherwin-Williams’ Diversified Brands. Beltz had been instrumental in securing product donations for the project, including Resilience Exterior Paint from The Sherwin-Williams Company, Purdy applicators, and Georgina Artist’s Oil Colours from Winsor & Newton and Daler-Rowney. Beltz knew what type of coating was needed to protect the mural and approached The Stallings Group, the local Seal-Krete representative, for help in securing a Seal-Krete product donation.
After consulting with Beltz on the project requirements, The Stallings Group recommended that the artists seal the mural with Seal-Krete Dura-Shell Clear Coat, a durable two-part water-based urethane system that provides a high gloss finish in a low VOC formula applied in a 4-mil WFT coat. Seal-Krete readily agreed to donate the product.
“Seal-Krete’s Dura-Shell coating system is formulated for preservation and protection and will stand up to the performance requirements of the mural’s environment,” explains Greg Stallings, owner of The Stallings Group. “Dura-Shell has a high tolerance for moisture and temperature extremes and also protects from graffiti and the potential wear from people touching the painted surface.”
Stallings also emphasizes that one of the many reasons Dura-Shell was chosen for use over the mural is because the product doesn’t react to oil paint—the media with which Sekletar and Shannon had rendered the mural. “Unlike many concrete coatings, Dura-Shell can be applied to both oil and latex paints with no adverse reactions.”
The artists were pleased with the results. According to Sekletar, “Dura-Shell was a great coating choice. It was easy to apply and provided the durable overlay I was looking for. It also produced a nice, aesthetic clear finish, adding the perfect final touch to the mural.”
Clearly Protected And Dedicated
The memorial mural was dedicated in a ceremony on Veterans Day, 2011, with hundreds of community members and veterans in attendance. As the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played, Marine Corps members raised a flag over the memorial much like when the flag was raised at Iwo Jima. During the ceremony State Senator Gayle Manning honored the artists and the city. A 21-gun salute from the Amherst Military Honor Guard Marine Corps concluded the dedication.
“The Iwo Jima mural is very important to our community; it’s gratifying to know that a product we recommended will help preserve it,” says Stallings. “We’ve seen an increase in demand for Seal-Krete’s high-performance coatings thanks to the high visibility of the mural and the recognition it has received. Our customers appreciate the product line’s durability, ease-of-maintenance and the variety of custom finishes that can be achieved through different methods and number of layers.”
A plaque placed on the mural by the artists reads, “We will never forget the courage, honor and sacrifice of the men and women who served our country for our freedom.”
“To be able to do something like this for our veterans is an honor and a privilege,” says Sekletar. “It’s nice knowing that the painting is protected with Seal-Krete’s Dura-shell system because I want this tribute to last as long as the brick wall it’s painted on.”