Orville Hector | Daily Tidings

Kasey Baker, 11, paints a Halloween pumpkin on the E. Main Street office window of C.P.A. Martin H. Levine. FRONT: Daniel Farrell, 12, paints a Halloween image of a zombie on the window on Saturday.



To see more photos of painted windows .

All photos by Orville Hector | Daily Tidings

When Ashlanders walk downtown this week, they'll notice a big change in the window displays in Ashland's businesses.

Just in time for Halloween, 54 business windows in downtown Ashland are being painted by 61 Ashland Middle and High School students.

"The Halloween Window Project" is the brainchild of 63-year-old Ashland resident Tom Kane, who used to work in the movie industry and is also a painter.

Kane says it took about 200 hours to put the project together but that everything &

the prizes, the paint, the brushes, and the window space &

has been donated by members of the business community, as well as by parents and teachers at the Ashland Public Schools.

The idea to have Ashland kids pick up their brushes and paint windows comes from Kane's own childhood memories. In 1956, when Kane was 12 years old, the small town of Pelham, New York held a similar contest. And Kane won it.

Winning that contest had a huge effect on him, Kane said.

"I was one of nine children," he explained. "It was the first time I was able to separate myself from the herd. I was no longer just a Kane or one of the Kanes."

For that contest, Kane painted a scarecrow, a bird and a pumpkin, all reacting to a ghost and trying to get out of the way. "I animated all of my characters," he explained, remarking that the best paintings tell a story, use vibrant colors and include some kind of action or movement.

Now Kane has organized a way for youngsters in grades 6 through 12 in Ashland to showcase their work on windows around town.

One striking painting is in the window of Geppetto's where three trick-or-treaters (dressed like a ghost, a witch, and Frankenstein) are being confronted by a giant pumpkin that has a knife in one hand and a bag of candy corn in the other. It's twilight and the pumpkin seems to be offering the candy corn to the children, the knife hidden behind his back. Other windows showcase vampire girls, dragons, and monsters.

Thirteen-year-old Logan Hartrick said it took him and his friend Luke Burnham about three hours to decorate the window at Hatsetera with a 4-foot high pumpkin in front of a black sky and a scared person inside one of the pumpkin's eyes crying for help.

"It was pretty fun to paint with my friend," Hartrick said. "We stayed downtown like all day and just painted. It's pretty cool that, like, people walked past you and looked at your painting, and they can vote for it."

— — Salina Piddington 17, left, Kachina Rowland 16, right, paint a pumpkin scene.

The most challenging part? "It was pretty hard to paint and not get anything on the stuff around the store. You had to be really careful."

Logan's father Gary Hartrick said the idea is a great way to build community. "I think it's an awesome idea, a great thing for the kids and the community and for the businesses to open up their doors and allow the kids to do that."

Ruby Schultz, who is almost 13 and in 7th grade at Ashland Middle School, spent three hours on Saturday decorating the window at Gateway Real Estate with her friend Brittany Sanders. They drew a night sky with a wolf howling up at the moon.

"I never painted on the window before," Schultz said, "and it was a lot bigger than what we did before, so it was kind of fun It's like a way to show your art to everyone, and it's, like, a new experience and you just learn how to make it bigger and make it more extreme."

Kane says the Halloween Window Project helps children build confidence. "It's all about self-esteem and boundaries. They have to learn to work within the system, which is the world, and the world in this case is the store owner, who has restrictions."

It's also a way to encourage people to walk downtown and support Ashland businesses.

Kane is urging Ashlanders to look at the paintings and vote for their favorite one.

There are ballots inside each store and anyone can vote. "Even dogs can vote," Kane jokes. "I don't care. I want votes, but only one per person."

Prizes &

which are gift certificates to Rare Earth, Renaissance Rose, and Ashland Mountain Supply &

will be given for first, second, and third place.