Mural on Main Street

Artists unveil Chautauqua-sponsored
Bicentennial mural

The mural was pieced together
from 16 separate originals

By Don Ward

(July 2009) – A mural created for the west outside wall of Rogers Corner will serve as a tribute to local artists for years to come – especially since it was created by 16 local artists who pooled their talents in this unique effort.

Rogers Corner Mural Artists

Photo by Don Ward

Artists attending the June 8 mural
unveiling at Rogers Corner are
(from left) Marguerite Ligon, Lou
Knoble, Lillie Wingham, Bob
Saueressig, Barbara Walters-Dixon,
Jenny Straub Youngblood, Kevin
Carlson, Patty Cooper Wells, Hal
Davis, Jane Devito, Teresa Waller, Bill
Borden and Larry Rudolech.

The mural, sponsored by the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art as a gift to the city for the Madison Bicentennial, will become this year’s Chautauqua poster in September, so area art fans can enjoy this artwork in their own homes and businesses.
The mural was created in 16 separate sections by each artist, then pieced together and made into a vinyl mural that was then unveiled on the wall of Rogers Corner on June 8 as part of Arts Day during the nine-day Bicentennial celebration. Chautauqua coordinator Georgie Kelly said it was special to see the various artists, each with his own style, to work together on a group project like this.
“We met frequently for several months with the artists and I just sat in the back of the room and listened,” she said. “They did all the work.”
Hanover-based watercolorist Bill Borden headed the group with Bob Saueressig to pull the various styles together. He said there were some concerns at first about how each individual artist’s styles would fit together. But in the end, that became part of the uniqueness of this work of art.

Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong

Photo by Don Ward

Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong
thanks Madison Chautauqua
coordinator Georgie Kelly for
sponsoring the mural.

“I was really worried that my type of art would not fit in with someone as different as say, Lou Knoble, but somehow it all worked,” said artist Jane Devito.
Seven locations with Main Street visibility were suggested as possible walls for the mural, and the committee decided they would request permission for the mural to remain for one year, Kelly said. She contacted the building owners of several locations. They were willing, but concerns existed regarding brick condition, unstable stucco and possible repair costs. After consulting with a building contractor and Pat Heitz and Troy Seel of Heitz Sign Co., it was determined that hanging a vinyl mural (similar to a billboard) would be the best strategy.
Harry Dobbins and Stacey Fields, who own Rogers Corner, agreed to host the hanging mural on the west side of their building at Main and West streets.
Initial meetings on creating a mural began in May 2008. Kelly met with six artists – Borden, Saueressig, Kevin Carlson, Eric Phagan, Larry Rudolech and Patty Cooper Wells.

Borden was asked to chair the committee. Final approval of each aspect of the project would rest in the hands of the Madison Chautauqua committee, and the artists agreed.
“The level of enthusiasm from these artists was incredible,” said Kelly. “They were very positive about the project – and so excited – that I became even more excited about seeing progression of the project and the finished mural.”
Mural image suggestions were sought from the arts community, and Rudolech’s proposed black-and-white photo of a 1920s Madison streetscape was chosen as the inspiration image. Several artistic approaches were discussed, and the decision was made to create a colorful quilt-like interpretation using 16 separate pieces of art.
Borden met with the 16 artists in February 2009. The black-and-white image was divided into blocks, four across and four down. Each participating artist would paint their section in their style and interpretation (oil, watercolor or acrylic) on the material of their choice. Rudolech created a color palette for the project to give the artists a basic color scheme to follow.

Rogers Mural

Photo by Don Ward

Chris Heitz of Heitz Sign Co.
unveils the vinyl mural on June 8.

The artists chose to meet every two weeks to check on their progress. Each meeting revealed the image in more and more detail. The colors and lines of individual paintings did not exactly match the ones positioned next to it, but the artists decided to leave it that way. Adding a space between each original work in the completed presentation helps the eye adjust to these slight differences and reminds the viewer that 16 separate and unique paintings create this single composite image.
Seel was the next artist to enter the project. His graphic arts skills would transform the 16 paintings into the Madison Bicentennial Mural. He photographed each of the original paintings and created a background with a header and footer (listing the artists).
A mock-up of the finished mural was approved by the Chautauqua committee at the April 21 meeting, 19 months since the project began. Upon seeing the mock-up of the mural that would hang on their building, Rogers Corner owners Dobbins and Fields were surprised and enthusiastic. They loved the project and were impressed with the list of participating artists. They had no idea that the mural image would illustrate the Main and West street intersection and their building.
“We’re totally excited to be involved,” Dobbins said.
The finished mural image was digitally transferred to a 12x16-foot sheet of vinyl by Heitz Sign, which hung the mural.
Meantime, the 16 original paintings were signed by the artists and framed by The Attic. Timber’s Custom Signs designed a special background mounting for the 16 framed paintings, creating a totally new composite image of originals that is now on display on a wall inside The Artisan Gallery, 325 E. Main St.
“This has been a very interesting project for me, and I was able to be like a fly on the wall as the artists worked together on this project,” Kelly said. “I knew these artists would create something for Madison Chautauqua’s Madison Bicentennial Mural that they would be proud of and, therefore, so would we.”

• The mural, photos of each artist with their individual painting, and brief biographies of each artist are online at: www.MadisonChautauqua.com and at www.RoundAboutMadison.com.

Back to July 2009 Articles.



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