Baraboo mural project gets room to grow

October 4, 2018

A downtown business is donating wall space for the final phase of Baraboo’s mural project.

The final 19 portraits in the Baraboo Public Art Association’s mural campaign will be installed next spring on the west wall of Ironwood Financial on Fourth Street.

The “People are the Fabric of Our Community” project had enjoyed intense public interest since its 2016 launch. In August, the arts group unveiled 12 portraits on the former Spurgeon’s building facing Oak Street, filling the wall.

Andrew Hager of Ironwood Financial agreed to donate his building’s west wall to display the final round of portraits, as well as installation costs.

“That’s a not insubstantial number,” said Morgan McArthur of the Public Art Association.

Hager had planned to place a mural on the wall, and when he learned about the Public Art Association’s project, he saw an opportunity. “The wall needed to be covered and having something like that on it,” he said. “It was a perfect fit.”

The project has accepted all comers, as long as each application included pictures for the muralist to use, a handwritten narrative about the honoree and the $600 fee. Applications were cut off last summer, as wall space grew scarce, some downtown merchants expressed concern about oversaturation and critics grumbled about some subjects being less than household names.

“I think the crew is a little weary of it all,” McArthur said.

While the arts group is planning the final phase of its mural project, another one may appear just down the street next year. Brandon Follendorf is considering adorning his building at 211 Ash St. with an elephant mural when the property is remodeled, possibly next spring.

As it readies its last installment of portraits, the arts group is moving on to other projects. It’s considering other opportunities for placing public art, such as paintings on the city’s water towers or a statue outside city hall depicting the French trapper for whom the community was named.

“I feel like we’re making some progress,” McArthur said.

The group also is working to find funding for a papa elephant to join the mama and baby elephant sculptures at Myron Park. “We’re having preliminary conversations and trying to dig up some money,” Mayor Mike Palm said.

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