Painting the town: Baldwin City mural project on horizon



Some Community Mural Team participants hold a “coming soon” sign in front of the eastern wall of the Baldwin City Fire Station where a mural will be painted. Courtesy photo

In an effort to display Baldwin’s rich cultural heritage, the Baldwin City Tourism Bureau and the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce have begun planning a new mural. They hope to incorporate everyone in the Baldwin City community, including Baker students, in the process.

Back in 2010, the tourism bureau hired a consulting firm to create a list of recommendations that would promote tourism in Baldwin City. Several of those 25 recommendations have already been implemented.

Some of the most recognizable to community members are additions such as “the blue and orange signs that you see around town,” Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeanette Blackmar said.

The firm told the tourism bureau that Baldwin City’s strongest resource was its “rich cultural heritage” and recommended that the bureau create a comprehensive cultural plan, which became the root of the mural project.

When Blackmar came on as the director of the chamber, she was immediately drawn to the idea.

“I jumped on board,” she said. “This is a phenomenal opportunity that we have in our community”

Since then she has started a planning committee and set up fundraising and the necessary arrangements for a grant from Douglas County.

This mural is a form of “all-inclusive public art,” Blackmar said.

The Baldwin City Tourism Bureau with partnership from the City of Baldwin City, Lumberyard Arts Center and Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce have set up a Go Fund Me account to help fund the downtown mural project.

In order to gain input from as many people as possible and to create an all-inclusive experience, “intergenerational community forums” regarding the mural design will be held. Ideas and information from these forums will be collected and taken to a group of 10 to 15 individuals selected by the committee, who will then create several versions of the mural to be released to the public for further review.

Once a design is selected, the mural will be projected on to the wall and the community will be able to assist in the painting of the mural.

“I would like to see the mural be a thoughtful and captivating reflection of the conversations and ideas we have as a group,” Dave Loewenstein, the project’s head artist, said.

Baker is already involved in these first stages of the mural planning. Faculty and staff lending their support include President Lynne Murray, Professor of Art Inge Balch, Assistant Professor of Art Russell Horton and University Archivist and Museum Director Sara DeCaro.

“Baker makes Baldwin City,” Blackmar said.

The tourism bureau and the chamber of commerce invite Baker students to the community forums and want to get Baker students actively involved.

“We would love for Baker students to be on our design team and help paint,” Loewenstein said.

This one mural project is the beginning of the larger cultural program.

“This one mural is part of our larger vision to have 10 to 15 murals painted throughout Baldwin City,” Blackmar said.

She added, however, that the “process is as important as the goal.”