Nintendo mural brightens up Hagerstown street

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Just to the side of South Cannon Avenue in Hagerstown, a little ways down from the Sheetz on East Washington Street, sits a garage.

The rectangular garage has a charcoal gray-colored roof.

Recently, it has begun to attract attention, not because it is a garage, but rather because of what is painted on its side: A mural portraying various Nintendo characters from the Mario video game and movie franchises. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Toad, Koopa Troopa. They’re all there.

Clayton Marquiss, who owns the house with the small garage, commissioned the mural.

Understanding South Cannon’s history of hosting some of Hagerstown’s homeless population, Marquiss wanted to brighten up the area and recognized the need to bolster the city’s art scene.

“I think (Hagerstown’s) kind of lacking in that department in many areas compared to other local towns near us,” Marquiss said. “I like Mario and I like the characters on it and I also like how much color was involved with it.”

Marquiss wants to get the city involved in increasing art on the streets of Hagerstown, beyond the murals the city has commissioned on railroad underpasses and along the Hagerstown Cultural Trail.

“Hopefully inspire some young artists and also give some young artists or some new artists a chance to shine or show the world their work,” Marquiss said.

In this mural’s case, Marquiss had been interested in Nintendo for a long time. He has nieces and nephews who also enjoy the characters, showing its reach to several different audiences.

Little did Marquiss know “The Super Mario Bros.” movie, which according to The Hollywood Reporter has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, would be released close to when the mural was created.

“We did not even think about that when we did it, but it was funny that it was released around a similar time that this happened,” Marquiss said.

Brightening up the community

Vinnie Mills, the mural’s artist, created the piece using primer and spray paint. Mills does art as a hobby and side gig, and he and Marquiss have been friends since high school.

This is his first mural.

“(Marquiss) basically just asked me to do it in the sense of doing it on his property in the area,” Mills said. “Just trying to make it colorful and kind of like a good vibe and kind of have something good just visually to have in the surrounding area.”

Mills, who has done paintings and canvas work in the past, said he ultimately wants to do more pieces.

“It’s something that I would love to be doing just because I think it’s very good in the sense of community-wise and just (a) positive message and visuals for people,” Mills said.

He spent three Saturdays working on the piece, taking around four to six hours each time.

He echoed Marquiss’ views about the struggling area of South Cannon Avenue and hopes the mural will bring positive energy and overtake what’s often seen in the area.

“Having something that can be that big and colorful and all, almost kind of, I hate to say cover up, but kind of mask the downfalls of the area,” Mills said.

‘Just bringing a smile on their face, that’s worth it to me’

In completing the project, Mills said he has been contacted by people saying they enjoy the mural. Some homeless people would walk by, Mills said, or even sit and watch as he completed the project.

One man in particular, whom he did not know, messaged Mills.

The man said his son had autism and loved Mario.

He told Mills about the joy that walking by and seeing the mural filled with Mario characters brought his son, and he thanked Mills.

Mills said that’s what he and Marquiss wanted people to take from the mural.

“That’s what I actually do it for, is I like to see how many people get to actually see it and appreciate it,” Mills said. “Even if it’s just for the little ones, just bringing a smile on their face, that’s worth it to me.”

More murals to come?

Marquiss said he would be open to talking about more murals emerging in Hagerstown.

He said he doesn’t know if he’d necessarily commission a mural on a property that was not his own, but he would prefer if the city of Hagerstown would provide grant money for pieces in the future.

“That would be a great thing that I think would really help, possibly even helping using (Mills) or using different artists who are up and coming ones that want to get into the mural game,” Marquiss said.

As for now, those passing through Hagerstown can stop by South Cannon Avenue and see the Mario Bros. and company smiling, ready to greet you on the side of that garage, hopefully representing a glimmer of hope in an area that’s struggling to repair its identity.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up