Painting the city: How junior Tobias Weichbrod became a Mt. Airy muralist

As historic Mt. Airy celebrates the opening of the Simpson-Baker-Bowlus pop-up park, UHS art student Tobias Weichbrod unveils his first ever mural in a colorful celebration of culture

Tobias Weichbrod (11) stands beside his completed mural at Mt. Airys Simpson-Baker-Bowlus pop-up park.

Tobias Weichbrod (11) stands beside his completed mural at Mt. Airy’s Simpson-Baker-Bowlus pop-up park.

Amanda Guettler, Reporter

Back in August, downtown Mount Airy celebrated the opening of the Simpson-Baker-Bowlus pop-up park: a creativity-rich community gathering place established in renewal of an abandoned bank parking lot. According to Mount Airy Mayor Partrick Rockinberg, the iconic “Bank Building” on the corner of North Main Street had sat vacant for nearly two decades before its reinvention into a pop-up park: an innovative, modern way to revive an otherwise static location into a junction of culture and art. Most often temporary, pop-up parks are useful to the community by creating a lively space for businesses to host events and draw in foot-traffic, revitalizing shopping districts while establishing a neighborhood focal point.

The Mount Airy park was crafted through donated materials and volunteers that helped accomplish general labor needs as well as artistic touches, such as murals and other painted accents. UHS junior and art student Tobias Weichbrod assisted with these decorations through the painting of his first ever mural, which features portraits of each of the Mt. Airy citizens the park is named after. According to Weichbrod, the town’s mayor chose such a subject in an attempt to “honor people who have lived [in] and served our town all their [lives].” 

Using photographs for reference, Weicbrod begins with a sketch outline then starts to add in the details of the face with paint. (Image credit: Tobias Weichbrod)

Weichbrod first got interested in art from a young age and has been creating art ever since. However, he nearly gave up on art altogether when his elementary school art teacher told him he would never be able to do art as well as he had wanted to. Sticking with it despite this discouragement, he discovered his love for painting. “I got into painting because it was fun and I could be messy,” recalled Weichbrod, “It really was just another art supply I hadn’t tried before.”

The opportunity to paint the mural in Mount Airy’s pop-up park came through the local art alliance and a neighbor who had worked closely with the mayor. Weichbrod was thrilled when he got the text message telling him he was hired to paint the mural, as historic Mount Airy is a very special place to him. “It is where I am growing up and is a true home to anyone who wants to stay,” he told me, “there are few people in town that I do not recognize.”

It wasn’t just his love for downtown Mount Airy and personal connections that landed Weichbrod the spot as Mount Airy muralist, but also the determination he has displayed throughout the entirety of his artistic journey. “What got me to this point was the constant nurturing of my interest in art from my parents,” claimed Weichbrod. He continued, saying “they have been really supportive… my brother is my biggest critic.”

Weichbrod begins the background of each portrait with white in order to illuminate the areas around the face. [Image credit: Tobias Weichbrod]

I asked Weichbrod about his creative process, first by discussing his inspiration. “Everything is an inspiration for me,” he answered straight away. “I love looking at other artists’ work and replicating techniques,” he added, sharing that his personal life with “all its ups and downs” is an additional source of inspiration.

Weichbrod later explained how he creates art. “I would say that my journey consists of a lot of self-doubts, experimentation, and then an explosion of passion when I find something that clicks. It has happened where I can’t sleep until I get an idea out of my head and if I am really enjoying a material I can work for hours,” he explained. Afterwards, he shared a quote from french poet Paul Valéry which he credits to driving his artistic motives. The quote, pulled from a 1933 edition of “The New French Review”, is this: “A work of art is never finished, merely abandoned.” Weichbrod explained that this quote had always stuck with him, saying “it means to me that you should always know what you want in a piece and be flexible enough with it so that you can leave it [alone] at an early stage.” He added his own words to Valery’s quote, elaborating that an art piece “must be abandoned by its creator before it can make an impact.”

When asked what he hopes people will take away from the mural, Weichbrod answered with respect for the subjects of his piece, his wishes aligning with those of the mayor in wanting Mount Airy townspeople honored for their lifelong dedication to the community. “I hope that people will then take the time to then ask about others and themselves,” he remarked, “a portrait is the attempt to capture someone as a first impression. I want people to look at Mt. Airy as a place with history and character.”

As Weichbrod begins the final tier of his painting, the face begins to take shape. (Image credit: Tobias Weichbrod)

Although he doesn’t plan on entering a career in visual arts, Weichbrod expects to be continuing art as a beloved hobby, treating it mostly as a place to get away from work rather than turning it into his job. He’s happy keeping art what it is: a piece of his life that brims with passion. I asked him what advice he would give to underclassmen readers and aspiring artists who hope to one day be given a similar chance to display their work in such a special way. He answered with this: “My best advice is to 1. Don’t lose your materials (I learned [that] the hard way) and 2. Make sure you have the time to think and execute your vision. If you do not have enough time that fits your process then it will only hinder your art.”

Tobias Weichbrod’s story shows that through enough perseverance and hard work, even the youngest artists can be given a voice. Creativity has no age restriction— every little bit of your work you present to the world is worthwhile. Who knows? With enough determination, you may just be given the chance to paint the walls of the city that shaped you.

If you wish to see Weichbrod’s mural, visit the Simpson-Baker-Bowlus pop-up park in Mt. Airy at

8 N. Main Street
Mount Airy, MD 21771

or book a reservation using this website.


Works Cited

“A Work of Art Is Never Finished, Merely Abandoned – Quote Investigator.”, Mar. 2019, Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

“Baker-Simpson-Bowlus Pop Up Park | Mount Airy, MD.”, Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Carroll County Times. “Abandoned Bank Parking Lot Pops up as a Park in Mount Airy.”, 10 Aug. 2020, Accessed 5 Jan. 2021.

Coleman, Emma. “The Rise of Pop-up Parks.” The Commons, 8 Apr. 2019,