Mural with a train and peace signs for the wheels and a hand with two fingers up in a peace sign

Singer and songwriter Cat Stevens wrote in his 1972 hit song, Peace Train, “Peace Train soundin’ louder, glide on the Peace Train.” Those lyrics may have summed up the growing artist community in the Hilltop, especially right as the Summer Jam West Festival continues to grow steam for a neighborhood that has not been well known for its art in its long history prior to the festival’s existence.

The theme for this year’s Summer Jam West Festival, held last month at Westgate Park was “Peace Train.” After a community-wide contest for mural ideas, local artist Justin Withrow’s concept for “Peace Train” was overwhelmingly selected after the community voted.

At the Peace Train Mural Dedication Ceremony held on July 25, Withrow said, “We’re excited to have the opportunity to win something, competition-style.” Withrow also painted Summer Jam West’s Official Art Car, The Grape Escape, which has been seen at the Westgate Farmer’s Market, Comfest and Summer Jam West, and will be seen at the end of the summer at the Hot Times Festival in Olde Towne East.

The mural, located at the Old Bible Way Ministries, at 2322 Sullivant Avenue, was completed only a few days before Summer Jam West this year, which meant that the official dedication did not take place until almost two weeks after Summer Jam had passed. Approximately 60 people from the community gathered on the lot for the dedication, which was followed by ice cream from Hilltop area business, Cream & Sugar.

When describing what the Peace Train theme was at the Mural Dedication Ceremony, Summer Jam West Executive Director Patti Von Niessen described the Peace Train as a way to “celebrate neighborhoods and the connectivity of the community.” The Official Summer Jam West Website added that the purpose of the Peace Train concept was for “a peaceful existence within your community,” which also includes accepting difference and embracing diversity as part of the “Peace Train.”

This year’s Summer Jam West, held on a steamy July 13 at Westgate Park, was packed full of artists, community organizations and food trucks. Carole and The Bittertones, Tourist Trap, The Deal Breakers, Hello Luna and Zoo Trippin’ were the musical acts that performed on the stage. There was live chalk art done by local chalk artists.

What was once a Columbus art scene that was primarily concentrated for the longest time downtown and in the Short North has made the Westward expansion over the last decade. First with 400 West Rich and the Franklinton Arts District, followed by the launch of Summer Jam in 2014.

In the last five years alone, three murals, two sculptures, and five eight-by-four panels have been spread throughout the Greater Hilltop Area. “On the Wings of Change” by Rachel Pace was the first art installed in the Hilltop, back in 2015, located nearby the Westgate Park Shelter House and Water Towers. “The Fabulous Food Garden” by Danielle Poling was the first of the Summer Jam art murals, is located in the middle of Westgate Park. The mural “Movin’ and Groovin’” (the 2017 Summer Jam West theme) done by artist Roger Williams, is located on the Camp Chase Trail, approximately 100 feet off of North Sylvan Avenue. Last year’s theme, “Hilltop Rising” saw the installation of a Phoenix mural installed outside of the Hollywood Casino on Georgesville Road.

The Peace Train mural was the first mural to be installed on Sullivant Avenue, a street known for making headlines for all the wrong reasons, instead of something uplifting and positive in the community.

When approached by people about the mural, Von Niessen said in her remarks that the feedback has been positive. “I love this mural,” Von Niessen said about the community feedback on the Peace Train Mural.

The Arts Scene on the Hilltop does not end with the Peace Train or Summer Jam. On the first Saturday of the month, the 3000 block of West Broad Street is home to the Hilltop Art Hop, which has been going strong for the last year and a half, with 3060 Artworks (at 3060 West Broad Street), which is a collective of artists, including Von Niessen, as the anchor art spot. While the Hilltop Art Hop is not as big as the Short North Gallery or Franklinton Fridays (held on the second Friday of the month), it takes a community to build an artist community.

For more information on Summer Jam West, including how to get involved next year, go to

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