Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Tuesday, August 14, 2018 9:57 am
June 27, 2007

Painting the new face of the Blazer

by Jon Kesten, Online Foreign Desk Editor
Suspended thirty feet in the air, muralist Stacy Ridgeway carefully paints the black outline of Montgomery Blair's nose while sporting a gray jumpsuit with a "Batman" symbol on the back. Near the main staircase down below rests a paint-splattered stereo playing jazz tunes. After putting on final touches, Ridgeway descends on a hydraulic machine lift and selects another, smaller paintbrush, and the front of his paint-covered jumpsuit is revealed to show a picture of Dora the Explorer. Ridgeway glances above him to admire the nearly finished portrait of Montgomery Blair. However, his work here is not yet done.
Ridgeway, in his Batman jumpsuit, paints a mural of Montgomery Blair. Jon Kesten
Ridgeway, in his Batman jumpsuit, paints a mural of Montgomery Blair.

Ridgeway and his son, Stace, traveled from Atlanta, Georgia to paint large murals relating to the Blazer mascot all around Blair on June 16, 17 and 18. They began painting the main gym and other hallways in Blair, and plan to paint murals on all three floors. "The big boys are in town," says a chuckling Ridgeway.

With one glance at his portfolio, which contains pictures of more than 17,000 murals and shows nineteen years of experience, Ridgeway can confidently say, "We're no stranger to the paintbrush." Ridgeway and his son painted murals throughout Blair – in the gym, main staircase and all three floors during their short stay.

On his first day, Ridgeway worked sixteen hours straight and managed to paint a Super-Blazer reflecting this year's yearbook cover in the main gym, extending from the floor to the ceiling. He plans to paint the names of middle schools that feed into Blair on the same mural.

Near the main staircase, Ridgeway completed a portrait of Montgomery Blair. "The mural of Montgomery Blair is to help students know who the school was named after," says former Blair principal Philip Gainous.
Ridgeway also painted the words "Counseling Office" and "Main Office" on the first floor. Stace painted a mural depicting drama and music outside of the Art hallway.

While at a principals meeting in Ocean City, Maryland, Ridgeway was introduced to Gainous, who fell in love with his portfolio. "I had seen their work at other schools and was very impressed. I was hoping that our students would not only like [the murals] but have a sense of pride in them and Blair," says Gainous.

Already, Rideway's work is awing others. "I've seen all of the murals on the first floor and was impressed. I hope our returning students will like them as well," says PTSA President Dave Ottalini.

Vice Principal Linda Wanner agrees. "I think they are beautiful and there should be many more of them around the building. I am all for art... I believe the students will be pleasantly surprised when they return to school," says Wanner.

Before he began his career as a painter, Ridgeway was a teacher. He went to school in New York, got a Master's degree in Art Education, and then taught art for seven years "and loved it," he says. He retired to begin painting murals for schools and colleges across the country. "I've been to 33 states…from Key West to Rhode Island, Michigan to Texas, all over the place," he exclaims.

Now that he's at Blair, Ridgeway promises to leave his mark not only on the students and faculty, but also the community and other local schools. "Oh yeah, we're going to do the weight room and cafeteria, and then the baseball dugout… just like that," he says, pointing to a photograph in his portfolio. "As soon as they come and see it, everybody is going to want some…we're going to do all the schools, watch," says Ridgeway. "Once we come in, we come in," he finishes boldly.

The 17,000 photo thick portfolio that he presented to Gainous in Ocean City now lies on the floor. "My ultimate goal is to always create a more community oriented theme," he says. Loading another jazz CD into his stereo, he looks at a photograph below him and shakes his head. "I remember just about all of these," he says.

He walks slowly toward the hydraulic lift, and steps on the platform. With a touch of a button, he is several feet in the air, still sporting the Dora the Explorer paint-stained jump suit. "What color were his eyes? Blue? Ok," he says. He resumes painting the nearly finished mural of Montgomery Blair, which he started just 5 hours earlier.

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  • ohh juniorstaff on June 29, 2007 at 10:41 AM
    next time don't have a six thousand word lede
  • disappointed on July 1, 2007 at 6:24 PM
    the hallway murals are good-but the gym one isnt that great, plus the bleachers will block some of it when it's pulled out
  • af on July 13, 2007 at 11:54 AM
    All of them seem good, but the arts one looks a bit cluttered.
  • ANDY! ANDY! ANDY! (View Email) on July 17, 2007 at 1:25 PM
    I like the new murals maybe it bring some spirt but i wish that the school had gone with a little more of an urban art feel instead of something that looks and feels very regulated
  • complaining on July 30, 2007 at 1:32 AM
    the gym mural looks ridiculous. sorry havent seen any of the otehr ones. the montgomery blair one looks cool from the photo, but the gym one ive seen and it looks like it belongs in an elementary school
  • kristina (View Email) on March 8, 2009 at 12:22 PM
    I know him. (the son) he's cool..and kinda cute..Love your work he does music and fashion too..creative genius!!!
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