Murals will transform five downtown Belleville buildings as part of an effort to showcase art in the Metro East community.
The Belleville City Council approved the Community Mural Project’s locations last week.
Kathy Mordini, one of the project organizers, said the murals are a natural step for the community that already has large events like Art on the Square.
“We have a lot of different arts happening and a lot of creative people in the community,” Mordini said. “This is just the new step we’re taking to become the hub of the arts in southern Illinois.”
The group is seeking artists for three of the five murals. They're expected to be painted near the end of September and will be completed by October.
The City Council approved four of the five mural locations with a 12-1 vote on July 15. The fifth location had been previously approved. Belleville Alderman Phil Elmore, Ward 7, said the project will bring vibrancy to a changing community.
“I hope that it brings a side of culture that people don’t get to see a lot of,” Elmore said.
Turned Treasures Gallery is one of the mural locations. Co-owner Laura Spelbring said she considered putting a mural on the building herself, but quickly abandoned that idea.
“We did a little research on our own, and it’s not cheap, so we put it to bed,” she said.
So when she heard about the Community Mural Project, she quickly offered her wall. Spelbring is asking that the mural incorporate trees because the shop features woodturned art and other objects, like cutting boards and bowls.
Paula Haniszewski is the chair of Southwestern Illinois College's art department and is helping work with one building owner to develop a mural theme. The project organizers have specific criteria for the murals, but they all should encourage public engagement.
“We don’t want Belleville to be a place that people just drive through. We want people to enjoy their time,” Haniszewski said. “These are the things that help cities spread the word of what they’re about.”
Those with the Community Mural Project hope to expand it to other parts of the city in the future. The goal is to encourage creativity and even attract new artists to the community.
“We want to see all of this creative energy blossom, continuously,” Haniszewski said. “We’re hoping this mural project starts that.”
At Turned Treasures Gallery, Spelbring is hopeful about the project but recalls her experience living in Belleville the past 15 years.
“We've seen this street go up and down, filled to empty,” she said. “I just hope it works.”
How to get involved:
If you're an artist or know an artist who is interested in painting one of the murals, send multiple drawings of the mural concept and a written proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Drawings should be in JPEG format, with the artist's name and phone number, and no larger than 1,000 x 1,000 pixels at 72 dpi. Organizers also want a resume and/or bio with contact information and 5-10 examples of recent work. Experience painting murals is preferred but not required.
Submissions are open until Aug. 9.
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