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High school students working on art concept for downtown walkway

December 20, 2018

A prominent spot downtown could soon have a local artistic touch.

Students at Beaver Dam High School are working on concepts for murals that would go up in the walkway next to American Bank, 115 Front St. The walkway leads to a small square behind the bank. The idea is coming through the city’s ad hoc committee to beautify the downtown area with art.

There already are 15 murals in downtown Beaver Dam depicting various aspects of the city’s history and culture.

The students in one of Kelli Dercks’ art classes at Beaver Dam High School receive college credit through University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

“As part of the curriculum, they work on design and they work on transformative space,” Dercks said. “I decided to connect them with this project.”

The students’ ideas for murals on the walls, which are now just painted white, include incorporating the city’s logo “life here is good” and swirling in flowers native to the area. Their concept also calls for silhouettes of everyday people and a portion with “wings” made of flowers that people could use to pose for a picture. They took some inspiration from mural projects in Sioux City, Iowa.

“It needed to be inviting and colorful. They wanted it to be interactive so people could take pics with it,” Dercks said. “They wanted to incorporate local nature and encourage people to visit and businesses to develop in the area.”

There is also an idea for a sculpture. The hope is that by the end of the spring, both ends of the mural will be complete. Right now, the students are working on full painting of their ideas as they move forward beyond their original sketches.

They will be using materials left over from the Walldogs mural festival in 2017, when most of the existing murals were painted downtown.

The alley was redone in the fall with brick paving on the ground alongside new landscaping throughout the downtown area as part of ongoing revitalization efforts. Work will continue in 2019, including the art and a new bridge across the river by the Watermark to create a full loop pathway.

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