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First mural unveiled in Janesville

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Gazette Staff
October 22, 2009
— Installation of the first mural in the 2009 Heart of the City Outdoor Art Campaign began this week.

The mural is on the northwest face of Prospect 101, the building at 101 E. Milwaukee St. The 25-by-35-foot mural is visible from the Janesville Farmers Market on North Main Street. The second is scheduled to be installed on the east face of The Janesville Gazette building, 1 S. Parker Drive, next week. The 20-by-23-foot mural will face westbound traffic on East Milwaukee Street. Installation of each mural takes two days.


The murals are part of a series of three that celebrate the founding of Janesville from 1830-1860. Each mural highlights a decade in the life of the community and an asset that led to the city’s economic growth. The first mural honors the land, the second the river and the third the railroads. Each also recognizes a community value, the first “sweat,” the second “power,” the third “grit.”


The Janesville Design & Development Center, a division of Forward Janesville, sponsored the murals as part of its downtown revitalization mission.


The building owners, Sara Investment Real Estate, owner of 101 E. Milwaukee St., and Bliss Communications, owner of 1 S. Parker Drive, have agreed to light the murals. The owners plan to install lighting after the murals are up.


The murals are printed on UV-coated vinyl and wrapped around aluminum frames. Each mural is sized to the proportion of its wall. The artwork came from area artists who painted standard 24-by-32-inch paintings. Each painting was scanned and graphics were added to create final digital images for the manufacturing process.


The murals will hang in their respective locations for five years. After that, the leases may be renewed. The technology allows the murals to be moved if necessary. The murals themselves are expected to last at least 10 years.


Ron Wick of Rockford, Ill., was hired to complete art for the land mural. Milton’s Larry Schultz was commissioned for the river mural. Janesville’s Jim Richter was commissioned to complete the art for the railroad mural.


Installation of the railroad mural hinges on a $57,000 fundraising campaign. If the goal is met, the 22-by-29-foot mural will be hung on the back of the municipal building at 18 N. Jackson St. facing Franklin Street.


Once murals are installed, the Design Center plans to pursue complementary education, including an accessible tour script, a Web site and a partnership with the Janesville School District.


Westphal Electric has offered to light the railroad mural as an in-kind donation. The mural will be hung this fall if $10,000 more is raised in the next few weeks. Otherwise, the mural will be hung next spring.


The campaign has received most of its support from foundations and grants. Area individuals and businesses have also contributed, and a raffle was held over the summer.


Call the Design Center at (608) 756-3721 or visit janesvilledesign.com for more information about the Heart of the City Outdoor Art Campaign.

Christine Moore of the design center and consultant Jeff Larson of The Larson Group began designing the campaign more than two years ago. The theme of “History, Vision, Janesville” arose from ideas gleaned from the “Wisconsin Hometown Stories” documentary created in 2006 by Wisconsin Public Television and the Wisconsin Historical Society.



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