Broadway Presbyterian Church will celebrate its history Saturday as it commemorates its 150th anniversary.
The day will be a remembrance of the families who have been a part of the church and a look at the historical significance of the building.
A new part of the church’s history will also be on display, as many visitors will have the opportunity to see for the first time a mural of Noah’s Ark, painted by Mike Anderson.
Located in the nursery, Anderson, who said he is not an artist, spent almost a year working in his spare time to complete the 17’ by 5’ mural in time for this weekend’s events.
“Bobbie (Cowen) and I work together at Pittsburgh Corning and we have become friends,” Anderson said. “We’ve worked on a couple of other projects whenever she has asked, but I really don’t consider myself to have any artistic ability.”
Anderson said he took art classes in high school, which he enjoyed. However, he never pursed any formal training once he graduated.
“I’ve played some with pottery and sculpting and I love to draw with different media, like charcoal and pencil,” Anderson said. “I love doing it, but it’s difficult to find the time.
“When I’m doing a project for others, you don’t have to have an excuse to do it,” he added. “You find a way to make the time to finish the project.”
Several years ago, Cowen asked Anderson to consider a project for the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival.
“I asked Mike if he thought he could build a piano for us for the event,” Cowen said. “That is the thing about him, if you give him an idea he is always able to create the most amazing things.”
Anderson sculpted a piano out of foam glass from Pittsburgh Corning for the festival.
“I’m really not sure what happened to it,” Anderson said. “At one time I know it was at the (Katy) Depot, but I’ve lost track of what happened to it since then.
“The mural should be here for a long time to come, but I told Bobbie when she asked me about this, I would give it a shot, but I made no promises,” he said. “I told her if they didn’t like it or it didn’t turn out they could always paint over it.”
“We knew whatever he did, we would be thrilled with it,” Cowen said. “Whenever I look at it I am amazed at how beautiful it is, at times I think the eyes of the animals are following me it is that realistic.”
Anderson said he spent an hour “doodling” on the initial sketch and at first did not know if the work should be more realistic than like a cartoon.
“With it being in a nursery I wasn’t sure what they were wanting,” Anderson said. “I decided to make it realistic thinking it could work anywhere.”
Cowen’s husband, Mike, built a wooden ark that is placed at the bottom of the mural to set the piece off and provide some depth to the work, but the rest of the mural is the work of Anderson.
Anderson used acrylic paint from Dugan’s thinking it would work best on the concrete walls.
‘It was a hard surface to work on,” Anderson said. “I would think I had a section of the image exactly as I wanted it and then I would come back and an air bubble would cause the paint to run and I would have to start over.
“I just got primary paint colors and I mixed and blended them to get the different shades, especially for the animals,” Anderson added. “I really like the way the tigers look because of all the different colors and the monkeys too; they don’t have a lot of contrast but they do look realistic.”
Anderson’s two children, Brady and Lexi, went to preschool at the church and they and his wife Kari would come to see Anderson work on the mural on different occasions.
“My family has been very patient with me on this project,” Anderson said. “They would come to see the progress, I would love to be able to do more work like this but with two young ones and a full-time job it is hard to be able to devote as much time as I would like to do projects like this.”
Anderson donated his time to the project and considers it a gift to the church for the kindness they have shown the community.
“There are a lot of good people here who do so much good work for others,” Anderson added. “This is a way to send some of it back their way.”
The Broadway Presbyterian 150th Anniversary Celebration will be hosted at the church from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature activities for all age groups.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484