Superior endeavorNot only is there a little something for everybody in Superior’s new mural, there’s a little something from everybody. The Our Superior project is more than public art; it’s art by the public.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Not only is there a little something for everybody in Superior’s new mural, there’s a little something from everybody. The Our Superior project is more than public art; it’s art by the public.
“It’s for everyone,” said artist Alison Price, who blocked out the design on the wall of Twin Ports Custom Climate, from toddlers to grandparents. In each roughly one-square-foot space, people can paint one of their favorite things — a color, an animal, polka dots, bacon … “something that makes you happy when you see it,” Price said. Even if it’s just a handprint, or initials, she said, people can still put their mark on Superior.
By Tuesday, the white wall had turned into a colorful quilt of artwork. Price, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, chose to create the mural as her independent study project. The idea came to her last year while she was painting flowers and bubbles on the back wall of Engwall Wolff’s Flower Shop as part of the Back Door Project. A trio of children would walk by on their way home from school each day. One day they asked, wistfully, how they could do something like that. She decided to give them that opportunity.
The Superior Business Improvement District, which sponsored the Back Doors Project, was quick to sign on for the mural. Twin Ports Custom Climate offered their warehouse wall. Owner Chad Thompson said he was skeptical at first, but he was impressed with Price’s work. And he wanted to share the company resources to support the community.
“Since I am the parent of three children living in this great community, I was particularly happy about the children being able to use their own ideas in the painting,” Thompson said. “It is something that they will remember for quite some time and will be able to see it as they grow up in the area.”
The young painters have been enthusiastic.
“Having watched all the children painting their portion of the wall has been very rewarding,” Thompson said. “You can visibly see the excitement and creativity flowing.”
Tuesday, 2-year-old Karina Green-Ivy stopped by the warehouse at 1322 Banks Ave. to view her work. She stretched her arms wide, grinning with pride.
“I love it,” said Karina’s mother, Chelsea Branley. “This is awesome.”
Adults have made their mark as well.
“We were the first ones to put color on it,” said Anna Lopez-Krueger, manager of Engwall Wolff’s Flower Shop. Employees added flowers and a red and yellow design to the piece. Price’s idea to immerse the entire community into the work has created a bright, yet personal, design, Lopez-Krueger said. It has also provided a sense of ownership.
“The children in our area that have participated are talking about the project amongst themselves and about their individual contribution,” Thompson said. “I see this as a very positive thing for the kids, to be able to feel like a contributing member of the community they live in.”
Tuesday, Karina’s mother lifted her up to see a calico cat, a narwhal, a dragon and handprints painted on the wall.
“Hi, hands, how are you?” the 2-year-old asked.
Hundreds of people have put their mark on Our Superior since Friday, including entire families. Price said she stopped counting at 250. There are spaces left to paint, but they are few and far between.
“I would do it quick before it’s all gone,” Lopez-Krueger said.
Painting is scheduled to take place 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. More hours may be posted, as weather permits, on the Superior Business Improvement District Facebook page.
Price, who hails from Minneapolis, said Superior could soon surpass Ashland as Wisconsin’s mural capital.
“Just wait,” she said, pointing out the Palace Theater mural on the Douglas County Historical Society building, the many back door murals along Tower Avenue, a streetscape in the works by Tom Napoli behind Vintage Italian Pizza and the East End Laundromat mural by Jeredt Runions.
But this new splash of color is unique.
“This is everyone,” Price said as more painters pulled up Tuesday. “That’s what this is about.”