What comes to mind when you think of iconic Wheeling landmarks? Perhaps it’s the Wheeling Suspension Bridge – one of the few of its kind to be designated a National Historic Landmark. Or maybe it’s Gideon, the new T-Rex that hovers from the second floor of the SMART Centre Market. Thanks to local artist Mindi Yarbrough, anyone can explore Wheeling with her one-of-a-kind coloring book that features several recognizable spots from across the Friendly City.
“Find Me In Wheeling” is an interactive coloring book that Mindi created in partnership with Wheeling Heritage and The Wheeling Artisan Center in 2020 during the pandemic. “I had been interested in creating my own coloring books for a while, but lacked the time or vision,” said Mindi. “When COVID hit, I transitioned to working from home and had some extra time and also a brand new iPad on which I created the illustrations. It just all came together at the right time.” To help seal the deal, Wheeling Heritage’s partnership grant program provided her with the funds to have the book printed and a platform to sell them through The Artisan Center Shop.
So, what inspired Mindi to create “Find Me In Wheeling”? “I wanted to contribute something fun and place-driven,” she said. “I was born in Wheeling but had moved away for quite a few years. When I came back to the valley, I was able to see our city with a new perspective and appreciated all the cool, quirky, small town things Wheeling has to offer. I think sometimes people forget or take for granted the amazing places in our area.”
One of the hardest parts of creating “Find Me In Wheeling” was narrowing down which places to feature in the book. “There were so many places I wanted to include, but wanted to keep the book short and simple. I tried to pick out some of the biggest or most unique items for the first book that were family-friendly.”
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What sets this coloring book apart from the rest is that it’s also an interactive scavenger hunt. “We wanted to add the interactive element to motivate people to go out and explore our own city and to reconnect and engage with young people through art,” said Mindi. “Plus, it’s a great family activity to do together or with friends!”
Those who purchase a book are encouraged to visit the destinations depicted in the book and take pictures of themselves with their artwork and share them online. The Wheeling Artisan Center Shop has been sharing those photos on their social media pages when users tag the shop and use the hashtags #FindMeInWheelingWV and #WheelingWV.
For Mindi, designing this coloring book was more than a job – it was an opportunity to have fun creating something that both kids and adults can enjoy. “I always loved coloring as a kid, and honestly still do. Art is super therapeutic for me, so creating the line drawings was a blast. By far, Gideon, the SMART Centre Market dinosaur was my favorite illustration from the book. I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid, so that made me super happy!
Are you ready to get your hands on this one-of-a-kind coloring book? In addition to Mindi’s website, you can purchase them at The Artisan Center Shop online or in-store at their Downtown and Oglebay locations.
One of Mindi’s long-term goals of this project is to turn it into a coloring book series – and she wants your help! What places would you like to see in the next edition? Comment in the box below.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.