Murals returning to Waukesha this weekend

Submitted Photo
This bright guitar mural will be painted on a wall at the Gallery 1 art and framing studio, 507 Broadway. Work on the murals begins today.
Published on: 7/30/2013

There was plenty of excitement when the five murals were added to the Waukesha GuitarTown Encore project in June.

They were painted in conjunction with the GuitarTown festivities, where a new batch of 10-foot-tall fiberglass Gibson Les Paul guitars were unveiled, and the new Les Paul exhibit opened at the Waukesha County Museum.

Local artist and developer Jeff Seymour, who was instrumental in bringing GuitarTown to Waukesha, said the murals were going to "add a new dimension that will add way more visibility than the guitars can."

If those five had that affect, than the 13 that to be painted this weekend will add even more visibility for downtown.

"They're all fantastic and different than one another and will add to the aesthetics of our community for many, many years to come," said Alderman Vance Skinner, before the Plan Commission approved all but one of the proposed murals.

Walldogs return to city

The Walldogs, the group of nationally-acclaimed mural artists who came to Waukesha to paint the first five, will now return today to start a majority of Round 2 in conjunction. A couple local artists, including Tom Noll, who designed two GuitarTown guitars the past two years, will join the Walldogs to paint two murals.

The Waukesha GuitarTown Steering Committee picked this weekend because it wanted to have the murals being painted during the art crawl Aug. 3 and have the artists work during Friday Night Live along with the Saturday's Farmer's Market when there's a high volume of people in the area.

The artists will begin sketching the outlines of the murals on Thursday and will paint the murals from Friday through Sunday.

Some of the new murals will represent the GuitarTown theme, but a majority show off the city's rich history including one representing "White Rock," a vintage vehicle with a Waukesha Gas and Electric Company marking on it, one representing Fiesta Waukesha and the city's Hispanic culture, which many enjoyed, an old train from Waukesha, also a favorite, and one that shows some old cobblestone roads in Waukesha.

Gateways to Waukesha

They can also serve as gateways for the city as a majority of them say "Welcome to Waukesha."

The one that wasn't approved, however, was the one that showed off Carroll University.

Members of the Plan Commission had reservations on this mural because they said it lacked the university's rich history and didn't show diversity as well.

"The colors don't represent what you visualize when you're there," Commissioner James Hoppe said. "We happen to be neighbors and we would never come up with something like this."

Needing updates

The Plan Commission also wished the Carroll sign could have been more prominent. But because they are sponsoring the mural, it could only be four inches in height. Other murals also have sponsorship logos, including ProHealth Care and We Energies, among others.

The Carroll mural design was done by a design team at Carroll and will be painted by an artist in Williams Bay. The GuitarTown Steering Committee also wanted updates on this one, but also wanted all 14 of them done during this weekend.

Rick Congdon, a Plan Commission member, who didn't vote on the murals because he is also part of the GuitarTown Steering Committee added, "We are on a timetable, a fast timetable."

Although Mackay said the GuitarTown Steering Committee negotiated with with Carroll on making updates he said "they're pretty set on it."

Nevertheless, Alderwoman Joan Francoeur said because the murals will be "with us for the next 10 years (the estimated longevity of the murals even though Mackay said he expects them to last much longer)," the commission wanted to make sure they are the best option.

As a result, the design will come back before the Commission at a later date for final approval.

Most of the new murals will be painted on panels that will be attached to the buildings due to the old surfaces of many of the buildings.

'Most exciting mural'

One mural that will be painted directly on a wall is at the Gallery 1 art and framing studio, 507 Broadway.

It will be painted over the entire wall of one side with the words, "Welcome to Waukesha" spread across the wall, alongside a large guitar with bright yellow-orange rays coming from it.

The Commission was very excited about this one, as was Mackay.

"This is the most exciting mural that we have," Mackay said. "This is the one that will be become the biggest landmark. This one is one of our biggest challenges, but I think everyone who has looked at the design is very pleased with the way it comes across."

Thirteen murals are planned for downtown Waukesha with painting beginning today and continuing through the weekend. Locations are:

·Gallery 1 art and framing studio, 507 Broadway

·The Greenwaldt Building, 734 Clinton St.

·Couri Insurance, 739 W. Main St.

·Mainstream Bar & Grill, 404 W. Main St.

·Waukesha State Bank, 100 Bank St.

·The Salty Toad, 921 Friedman Drive

·Main Street Plaza, 234 W. Main St. (two murals would be at this location if the Carroll University mural is approved)

·Panos Grocery Store, 200 W. Main St.

·Discount Liquor, 919 Barstow St.

·Olsons Ace Hardware, 155 Main St.

·Buildings at 135 Broadway, 147 Broadway and 129 Broadway