FARRELL – Shenango Valley native Dante Marshall is brightening up his hometown area again, this time by painting a mural on a wall outside a Farrell business.

And he did this for free.

“I just wanted to do it. I had to do it,” Marshall said. “I felt that it was important for the city and I felt that it was an important step for me as an artist to make.”

Marshall first gained recognition in Farrell when he created a mural – also free of charge – on the side of the corner building that once had been Isaly’s and later Marshall’s Golden Touch Beauty and Barber Shop at Fruit Avenue and Union Street.

Shenango Valley native Dante Marshall is brightening up his hometown area through his colorful murals.

The mural depicts a boy that may be getting his first haircut, and will be rewarded with ice cream afterwards.

“I wanted to show beautiful brown features, beautiful brown lips and nose, beautiful dark eyes and fluffy, dark hair shown in a great way,” Marshall said of his first creation. “I wanted kids to see a fun, brown image portrayed in a fun way.”

He found it important to depict some of the history he remembers when growing up.

When Marshall, 36, was growing up, he remembered when his grandmother bought the former Isaly’s dairy store building in Farrell and turned it into a beauty/barber shop. It was a family business. Marshall’s father and uncle cut hair there, and he hung around the shop a lot.

“I wanted to honor the history of the building,” Marshall said. “I wanted to bring my memories of growing up in the barber shop to the artistic process.”

And he was going for the same feeling when he painted the wall outside Yank’s Place at 715 Idaho St.

“My whole mission with a lot of these pieces is to find a nugget of history and expand upon it artistically,” Marshall said.

As he worked on the Yank’s mural, people in the neighborhood would stop and talk to him.

“They would say, ‘Oh, this is the wall. Do you remember the wall?’” Marshall said. “And they’re talking amongst each other and reliving their moments on the wall and telling me about how the times were back then.”

Although Marshall is in town at least through September, he now lives in Los Angeles, Calif. He works as a waiter and an artist.

Since his first creation, he has been commissioned to paint several more murals and even a lemonade stand.

“I’ve just been pushing my trip to California back,” Marshall said. “Now I have a funeral home, a daycare.”

Marshall said working part-time in the restaurant in L.A. and as an artist was going well until the pandemic hit. Then, when the restaurant reopened, not everyone came back to work, which made his schedule full-time plus. He was sometimes working for eight days straight and his art was suffering.

Then, he put in for 12 days off to return to Farrell to paint the Yank’s mural. Everything blew up from there and he ended up quitting his restaurant job to focus on his art full-time.

At first, he was supposed to be paid for the Yank’s mural, but the committee running a festival for the city could not come up with the funds to pay him.

“This was just a passion project for me,” Marshall said. “And I loved it. I loved the way it came out and the response for the piece, I wasn’t even expecting.”

Marshall grew up in the Shenango Valley. He went to school and church here. He considers himself to be a part of the culture in Farrell, Sharon and Mercer County.

Marshall said it was priceless for him to be able to pull up a nugget of history and put together something colorful, positive and fun.

And he’s not nearly done spreading his artistic talents throughout the valley.

“Hopefully we get to take over these walls and bring out more history and put more fun up,” Marshall said.

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

Follow Melissa Klaric on twitter @HeraldKlaric or email her at mklaric@sharonherald.com

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Melissa has been a news reporter for The Herald since 2013, covering breaking news, northern Mercer County, Sharon City schools and education. She is a 1992 graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications.