Change in plans for downtown murals

By Andrew Schlesser

A change of plans by the Main Street DeKalb mural committee means one less downtown mural.

A maintenance fund will be established in place of the first mural, said Dan Grych, owner of the DeKalb Gallery, 161 E. Lincoln Highway, and chair of the mural committee.

The fund would provide money to help maintain and repair the murals after they are built, Grych said.

Main Street DeKalb had planned to fund four murals. Now they will fund three, Grych said.

The location of the first mural still is undecided, Grych said. The committee also has considered a hanging mural instead of a mural painted directly on a wall, but still is exploring options.

The first mural was tentatively scheduled to be located on the wall at North Central Cyclery, 534 E. Lincoln Highway, Grych said. After the cyclery painted the wall, doubts about the ability of the wall to hold the mural began to surface. No mural will be painted there.

Time was also a big factor in the decision to start up the fund.

“It’s difficult to contract an artist this late in the season with a September deadline,” Grych said.

The committee felt confident pushing back the deadline was the right thing to do.

“We want to make sure we get this right,” Grych said. “If we do a good enough job, then the mural program could receive additional funding.”

The idea of setting up the fund came from Ottawa, a city with an extensive mural program.

Ottawa suggested setting up the maintenance fund before putting up a mural, said Jo Burke, assistant director of the NIU art museum and a mural committee volunteer.

The fund is a great way to redirect the money from the city so it is not lost, Burke said.

“[The maintenance fund] is something Ottawa didn’t do but wished they had,” Burke said.

Burke helped organize and paint the mural at First Street and Lincoln Highway. That mural has no maintenance fund.

The mural has sustained minor physical and graffiti damage and will not be restored to its original state, Grych said.

The committee is now developing plans for a mural in 2006 to commemorate DeKalb’s 150th birthday.

“We are still gathering input from the community on perspectives and images to be in the mural,” Grych said.