2014 Rhinelander Veterans Mural

In the spring of 2014 the City of Rhinelander put out a call to artists for a new mural close to downtown. The wall is protecting some utilities related to a cell tower disguised as a flagpole. To match the flag, the city asked for proposals to include a veterans theme alongside Northwoods themes.

The original “blank canvas”

I submitted the following proposal:

The original pencil drawing submitted with my proposal.

In my image I wanted to bring to light that even though modern day American wars seem to be fought thousands of miles away, locally we have been entrusted with their legacy (because they protect us). Our veterans watch over us from the front line while we guard their efforts at the threshold of peace. Behind us life brings forth its treasures and for us in the Northwoods that means forests, deer, eagles, turkeys, wolves, owls, turtles and many more neighbors and wondrous scenery (not to mention each other of course).

I chose this kind of image because I grew up on the coast of Normandy, France, where the allied forces of World War II began to reclaim freedom for the oppressed nations under Nazi rule in 1945. The graves that now stand at Omaha beach are well kept and the grass is always green. As you walk through the rows of pristine white crosses, breathing in the fresh sea air and daydreaming about tomorrow’s next big thing, you suddenly realize you are only doing so because six feet underground lies a man whose last memory lies on a sixty year old bloody beach. This massacre is not poetry for history books: it really happened. The lesson is to be wise with what they gave to us.

My proposal was accepted on the condition I hide the town’s Hodag mascot in the wooded area. The committee felt it was too prominent, and to be fair, Rhinelander has a LOT of Hodags already. I complied and replace the central animal with a bald eagle flying into the sunset as a more generalized American symbol.

The revisited design, vectorized in Adobe Illsutrator CS6

Using a grid system, my two art & design professors, Nate Wilson and Barb Buckel, helped me prep and free hand the mural to create a “paint-by-number” setup for volunteers coming the next day.

The mural was painted in one day with 8 extra volunteers along with myself and my professors. The mural still stands today at S Courtney Street Public Parking, Rhinelander WI 54501.

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