Signs of the Times - September 2012 - (Page 72)
By Steve Aust
The Walldogs decorated Arcola, IL with murals that reflect local history.
Photos by Scott Lindley
I hadn’t been to a going to Arcola, meet for seven mural-painting years. So, I relished IL for the Walldogs’
“Pop the Top” event. Geography worked in my favor; Arcola, near Illinois’ eastern border, was an easy, fourhour drive from Cincinnati. Most others have been further north or west, and would require flying. I always enjoy traveling to small towns; the people are almost universally friendly, and independent radio stations defy corporate playlists and broadcast Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye and Metallica consecutively with impunity. Arcola provided stellar local color, thanks in large part to the heavy Amish population – reportedly the largest Amish concentration outside of Pennsylvania – whose wares filled the shelves of numerous stores in Arcola’s bucolic downtown. A significant influx of Hispanic immigrants also contributed to local culture – and helped provide far better Latin-influenced food than one would normally expect from a tiny Midwestern hamlet with approximately 3,000 inhabitants. Against this idyllic backdrop, a world-class assemblage of mural painters converged to make Pop the Top a memorable event that will leave a positively indelible stamp on Arcola and, hopefully, generate tourism for the town. “Cornbread” Scott Lindley, owner of CSL Studios (Mt. Pulaski, IL), spearheaded the event. He became involved when Arcola’s Beautification Committee began seeking a project leader to create a mural to commemorate the Arcola Record-Herald, the community’s newspaper since 1855. City Administrator Bill Wagner contacted an art-department professor at nearby Eastern
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The Illinois Central Railroad played a central role in founding Arcola. In 1855, railroad officials surveyed and plotted a parcel of land along both sides of the newly installed tracts to build a city. Because the town was located on the banks of the Okaw River, they planned to name it after the river. However, when state officials informed them a town named Okaw already existed, they took resident James Kearney’s suggestion and named it Arcola, after the Italian site of a key victory by Napoleon and his army over Austrian forces during the French Revolutionary Wars. The town thrived, and, the following winter, residents of nearby Bagdad loaded their entire town – buildings included – on sleds and moved their entire settlement into Arcola. The mural evokes both the railroad’s role in the town’s foundation and the region’s natural beauty. Dave Petri, owner of Peach Signs (Green Bay, WI) led the project (thanks to him and Adam May, a graphic artist from Mt. Pulaski, IL who directed the mural with Petri, for letting me attempt to paint part of the orange sunset on the panel’s right-hand side). Arcola’s IGA store sponsored the mural.
Illinois Univ. for recommendations of a graduate to undertake the project; the instructor recommended Lindley. A meeting of Lindley and the committee yielded a far more expansive vision: 15 murals that highlight numerous people, places and cultural amenities that have forged Arcola’s legacy. The meet’s preparation required approximately two years. Hopefully, I’ve provided sufficient backstory. I think any further explanation would merely detract from how Walldogs from around the world once again fulfilled their mission to beautify the U.S. with masterful murals, one town at a time. ■
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - September 2012
Signs of the Times - September 2012
Possible Future for Digital Printing
The Moving Message
Enter STs 2013 Intl. Sign Contest!
Neon: Green Again
Signs of the Times - September 2012