Welcome Baldwin City Mural: Part of the Baldwin City Community Mural Program
Ribbon Cutting, Friday, 9/21, 5:00 pm.
In May 2016 the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce, Baldwin City Tourism Bureau and Lumberyard Arts Center kicked off the Baldwin City Community Mural Program. The first community mural, Maple Seed Fountain, is located at 608 High Street. The second mural, located on the north wall of the Lumberyard Arts Center, was completed a year ago to celebrate “Baldwin City Arts” with the generous support of the Maple Leaf Festival Committee. Join us as we celebrate the completion of the Baldwin City Community Mural Program’s third community mural tonight at 5:00 pm, 705 8thStreet. All three of the murals have been created through community engagement design process that provides training and funding for local artists, serves as a civic catalyst and engages a range of participants from the community.
The Welcome Baldwin City Mural was supported by a City of Baldwin City mural grant and hired two lead artists, Maggie Swanson and Becky Weaver, as well as a Baldwin High School artist apprentice, Megan Jardon. Local photographer and artist, Maggie Swanson, produced the mural design. She states,
The mural consists of the geographical location and characteristics of Baldwin City. That is why the mural features the actual streets of the town, local plants, an ox, and a fox, which are both indigenous to the area. The Ox represents the community. Much like the ox, the people here are hard working, part of a team that works together for something better and much larger than themselves. The Fox represents Baker University and the students. Foxes represent wisdom, which reflects those who are choosing to better themselves with higher education. The mural itself is an aerial view of the streets of Baldwin City. The focus is set on the diamond, which is surrounded by some of the best greenery and flowers of the area.
Maggie thought of the mural as her gift to Baldwin City but realized during the project that is been an opportunity for her to get to know more about the community.
The Baldwin City Community Mural Program is part of the Baldwin City Tourism Bureau’s long-term strategic priority to create a cultural tourism program leveraging Baldwin City’s rich historic and cultural heritage as a core resource to 1) instill community pride among residents; 2) increase visitors to Baldwin City and 3) train and employ a cadre of local artists.
The Program is one component of the Chamber/USD 348’s Career and Youth Workforce Development Program that provides experiential learning opportunities for USD 348 students and to provide 21stCentury problem-solving skills including collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. According to Megan Jardon, the project provided the following,
Throughout the whole mural process, I have learned that teamwork is the biggest factor on being successful. The three of us (Becky, Maggie, and I) were good about adjusting to each other’s schedules and finding times that worked for all of us. This process took longer than I expected; painting a huge building takes longer than just a thumbnail, that’s for sure. It surprised me how much planning went into getting this mural completed. We had to sketch it all out on the building and be precise so everything would fit on the wall. This experience is one that is unforgettable and I cannot wait to be older and reminiscing on this project. I love how involved I got and that I now can say I made my mark on Baldwin City. I hope everyone enjoys this mural as much as I do and that people will continue to look at it with new eyes each time.
Murals have the opportunity to tell the community’s story, create a unique experience, engage citizens, increase foot traffic and tourism, increase appreciation for the arts and artists, and increase overall attractiveness of the space. The intangible benefits of public art—aesthetic beauty, cultural interpretation, education, inspiration, and general improvement of the urban environment—are well-known. But because these are considered “soft” benefits, they are sometimes dismissed. However, experiences throughout communities across the US show that public art can be a source of publicity and cash income, as well as beauty. Murals have become a unique and appealing way of increasing tourism and improving commerce. The American Planning Association (2011) states, “the recognition of a community’s arts and culture assets (and marketing of them) is an important element of economic development.”
American Planning Association. 2011. Economic Vitality-How the Arts and Culture Sector Catalyzes Economic Vitality. Arts and Culture Briefing Papers. Chicago: IL.
Images of the Process:
The community was invited to submit a design idea – The design was projected on the wall and sketched in chalk (BHS students Megan Jardon and Ella Conover) – Lead Artists (Maggie and Becky) paint the mural – The community was invited to paint during the Lumberyard Arts Center Third Friday Artwalk this summer.