Metro-East News

Do you like to paint? Belleville needs artists to create five murals around town

Local Belleville artist creates mural for new ice cream shop

Korbin "Kass" King illustrated the mural for Jeff Green, owner of Sweet Tooth, a new ice cream and candy shop on 4004 West Main Street in Belleville.
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Korbin "Kass" King illustrated the mural for Jeff Green, owner of Sweet Tooth, a new ice cream and candy shop on 4004 West Main Street in Belleville.

Murals will transform five downtown Belleville buildings as part of an effort to showcase art in the metro-east community.

The Belleville City Council approved the Community Mural Project’s locations last week.

Kathy Mordini, one of the project organizers, said the murals are a natural step for the community that already has large events like Art on the Square.

“We have a lot of different arts happening and a lot of creative people in the community,” Mordini said. “This is just the new step we’re taking to become the hub of the arts in southern Illinois.”

The group is seeking artists for three of the five murals. They’re expected to be painted near the end of September and will be completed by October.

The City Council approved four of the five mural locations with a 12-1 vote July 15. The fifth location had been previously approved. Belleville Alderman Phil Elmore, Ward 7, said the project will bring vibrancy to a changing community.

“I hope that it brings a side of culture that people don’t get to see a lot of,” Elmore said.

Turned Treasures Gallery is one of the mural locations. Co-owner Laura Spelbring said she considered putting a mural on the building herself, but quickly abandoned that idea.

“We did a little research on our own, and it’s not cheap, so we put it to bed,” she said.

So when she heard about the Community Mural Project, she quickly offered her wall. Spelbring is asking the mural incorporate trees because the shop features woodturned art and other objects, like cutting boards and bowls.

Paula Haniszewski is the chair of Southwestern Illinois College’s art department and is helping work with one building owner to develop a mural theme. The project organizers have specific criteria for the murals, but they all should encourage public engagement.

“We don’t want Belleville to be a place that people just drive through. We want people to enjoy their time,” Haniszewski said. “These are the things that help cities spread the word of what they’re about.”

Those with the Community Mural Project hope to expand it to other parts of the city in the future. The goal is to encourage creativity and even attract new artists to the community.

“We want to see all of this creative energy blossom, continuously,” Haniszewski said. “We’re hoping this mural project starts that.”

At Turned Treasures Gallery, Spelbring is hopeful about the project but recalls her experience living in Belleville the past 15 years.

“We’ve seen this street go up and down, filled to empty,” she said. “I just hope it works.”

Here’s how to get involved if you are an artist, or know one, who is interested in painting one of these murals.

Send multiple drawings of your mural concept and a written proposal to bellevillemuralproject@gmail.com. Drawings should be in JPEG format with your name and number identifying them and no larger than 1000x1000 pixels at 72dpi.

Organizers also want a resume and/or bio with contact information and five to ten examples of recent (mural) work. Experience painting murals is preferred, but not required.

Submissions are open until August 9, 2019.

Full details, including mural locations and guidelines are here: https://www.bellevillemuralproject.com/open-call

This story was first published by St. Louis Public Radio.org. It is reprinted here with their permission. Eric Schmid covers the metro-east for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program: Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. Follow Eric on Twitter: @EricDSchmid

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