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A Mural for the Community: Whitehall’s Next Masterpiece Q&A

August 9, 2021 /

There is a phrase that we use at Whitehall called “gifts to the street.”  It is a time-honored tradition in villages, communities and towns all around the globe.  It is a custom to not just build your private space, but to offer something to the public realm that connects you to them. For some, it is a flag on the porch, for others, it is elegant landscaping, a bench for sitting, or a dog bowl filled with water for a visitor’s passing pet.  But regardless of the gift, the generosity and statement open the heart of the resident to the outside world.  In keeping with Whitehall’s celebration of the importance of art in the community, a new mural is being dedicated as a gift to the street by the Wellness Center developer.  It tells a grand story about the state of the surrounding area and Whitehall proper. Within its vibrant borders, one can find many hidden influences and inspirations that you’ll have to check out for yourself to get the full picture (no pun intended). Hint, look for the walkable villages hidden in the artwork that originally inspired the founding family of Whitehall! Before its installation, professional artists John Waters (JW) and Joshua Nobiling (JN) sit down for a Q&A on their background, inspiration, and most enjoyable moments during the artistic process.


What is your artistic background?

(JW): I have been drawing and painting professionally for 50 years. I completed my Bachelor of Fine Art (B.F.A.) at the Philadelphia College of Art (now called the University of the Arts). During the four years, my major was in Illustration, and I minored in Graphic Design.


(JN): I have been drawing and painting since I was a child. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts(B.F.A.) from Southern Illinois University Carbondale (S.I.U.C.), and my Master of Fine Arts(M.F.A.) from the University of Delaware. During my studies, my focus was on painting and drawing, with a minor in Art History. I have worked as an art professor since 2012, working atUniversity of Delaware, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Delaware State University, Wesley College, and this coming fall, Delaware Technical Community College in Dover.


What are you doing now/where do you work?

(JW): Currently, I am painting murals part-time and working full time at Goodwill as a Regional Manager.


(JN): Aside from my work as a public muralist, I am on the new board of directors at the Dover ArtLeague and will be teaching drawing at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover.


What do you love about doing murals?

(JW): There are many things I love about mural painting, but the one thing I enjoy the most is problem-solving, painting a mural that is breathtaking, and making the customer happy.


(JN): Besides my obvious love for the painting process, I love working with clients to develop a design that they are excited about. I also get a thrill in solving the logistical puzzles each mural provides.


Where else can we find your work?

(JW): You can see my artwork on various advertising campaigns for corporate businesses and organizations throughout the Delaware Valley. Presently, my focus has been creating dramatic and appealing murals for local organizations and companies such NCall, Delaware Division of the Art, etc.


(JN): My personal artwork, which is not indicative of my mural work (which is client concept focused) can be found on my online portfolio at www.joshuanobiling.com. Also, I have created murals for the Dover Air Force Base and the city of Dover, DE.


What drew you to Whitehall?

(JW): What drew me to this community was the opportunity to paint a mural that will bring inspiration and life to the Whitehall community.


(JN): The opportunity presented itself to us, and after learning of the location I became inspired by the peaceful feeling of the landscape that surrounds Whitehall. Also, the amount of sunlight that our mural will receive would allow our preferred, bright color palette to really glow.


Why did you take this assignment?

(JW): By taking on this assignment, my partner (Josh) and I feel it was a great privilege and honor to create and paint a mural representing the Whitehall community.


(JN): After our initial meetings with Brian DiSabatino and Jacqueline DiSabatino, it was clear to me that this would be a very positive project. I became inspired by the vision and story of Whitehall being a new small town that is focused on a return to community. It is a beautiful place!


When you became engaged, what excited you about the project?

(JW): To create artwork that will excite you, and to share my artistic gift with the world.

 (JN): The variety of imagery this project allowed us to paint, which was bountiful. And the unique logistical challenges that this mural would present. It is a great feeling of satisfaction to successfully complete a painting of this scale.


What do you hope your audience takes away from your mural?

(JW): My goal is to create a mural that will impact many individual lives through the power of inspirational images.


(JN): I hope the residents and visitors of the Town of Whitehall will appreciate the chromatic beauty of our design. I hope it will instill in them a peaceful feeling, and a sense of pride for their community.


Are there any parts or pieces of the mural that are your “favorites”?

(JW): That’s a tricky question. I enjoy all parts of the mural, but If I have to choose any parts of the mural, I would say I enjoy working on the heart, cupcake, the buildings, and the blue rooster.


(JN): As John said, that is tricky. After painting every square inch of something this size, you feel a connection to the entire painting. A great amount of heart and soul has to go into an artwork of this scale. That said, I loved painting ‘Charlie’ and his surrounding bouquet.


Do you have any future assignments?

(JN): Yes, we do have a variety of public and private mural assignments that are in the works. Most notably, we are in discussions to create a large mural for the beer garden at the Golden Fleece Tavern in Dover, DE. This is the Tavern where our forefathers met to draft the Declaration of Independence.


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