Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

    Mural brings green to 14th Avenue

    Local artists with Quad City Arts paint details on plants on the last day of their project. After nine days, the mural will be finished and ready for public viewing on Monday, July 23.

    Formerly a scene of construction and traffic, the southern wall of Fred & Ethel’s Antiques shop has blossomed into a lavish spanse of green and floral patterns.
    After the City of Rock Island commissioned the space to become a patio area but decided against a “green space,” hired muralist Heidi Sallows transferred that green space to the wall.
    “You can’t mess up plants,” Sallows said.
    Sallows, who grew up in the area, received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before following her art across the world. She has murals painted in nine different US states as well as Amsterdam and Mexico. Her travels have eventually landed her in an arts teaching position in Arizona.
    Her job in Arizona has been the cause of a rush on the Fred & Ethel’s mural. The mural contract with the Hilltop Association stretches until mid-August, but the start of the school year has lit a fire under the artist to get the mural done in the span of a little more than a week. The rush and excitement of painting is the reason Sallows paints for around 12 hours a day and sleeps in her car beside the project to get up early the next day.
    Sarah Robb, a friend of Sallows and fellow muralist, said after working until 2 am the previous night that they “don’t have time for perfection” on this project.
    To help complete the painting, Sallows hired painters she had worked with through the Quad City Arts summer program. While the program had already ended for the season, the connections through the program and the mural – in addition to the $10 an hour compensation – drew in a variety of painters to work on a variety of ideas.
    Janiece Maddox, for example, has been participating in the Quad City Arts program for two years and painted a 2D extension of the Fred & Ethel’s shop window for the mural. Maddox will be starting her sophomore year in college at the University of Iowa after transferring from Loyola. There she will be studying both art and law, a combination Sallows encourages for future artists.
    Studying law aids in understanding contracts and copyright, Sallows said, citing several instances in which gallery curators have reproduced and sold the work of artists they’ve exhibited.
    The completed mural is available for viewing at any time.
    The guiding artist role Sallows has taken is something she does both in her classroom and on projects like this mural. “It’s kind of like raising a child,” Sallows said, explaining her guide-and-let-go teaching philosophy. She even brags that most of the mural she hadn’t touched herself.

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    Mural brings green to 14th Avenue