Arts Council of Washington

The Arts Council of Washington’s first public mural is closer to becoming a reality.

The arts council presented its idea for a mural in Downtown Washington at Thursday’s park board meeting. The board said it’d impressed by the proposed mural and unanimously voted to back the project.

Before painting can begin, the city council will have to approve the project. The council is slated to hear a presentation on the mural later this month.

Late last year the city adopted a public arts policy. Under the policy, some proposed donations and projects will be sent to the park board for review first before moving to the council.

John Vietmeier, with the arts council, said the policy was created in order to bring public art to Washington. With its approval, the arts council wanted to get started right away on murals in public spaces.

The first space targeted is a city-owned retaining wall off Elm Street wrapping around the parking lot at Elm and Main streets just up from The Landing.

The arts council sent out a callout to artists for qualifications and submittals. Four artists were selected as finalists and were considered for the project.

The name of the artist selected is being withheld until the council makes a decision.

Arts council members Rebecca Mayer, Beth Haines and Jeanne Miller Wood showed off a concept design by the winning artist. Vietmeier said the goal is to have a mural that showcases Washington, but also displays creativity and innovation.

The mural is being paid for by the arts council and will be at no cost to the city.

If approved by the city, Vietmeier said the artist could start at the end of April or early May. He said ideally the artist would be working during the annual Art Fair/Winefest in May.

The entire project should be done in four to six weeks, weather permitting.

The only questions the park board had were about the protection of the art. The board wanted to know how it would survive the weather and graffiti.

Mayer said the artist will apply several coats of protective materials to seal the mural and shield it from the weather. She said in other areas, public art is respected and not vandalized.

Park board member Sparky Stuckenschneider said he would like to see a city-owned security camera near the mural, if possible.

Other members of the board voiced their support for the plan. Bob Kloeppel called it a “fantastic idea” and Tessie Steffens said it was “beautiful.”