by Larry Austin
About a dozen volunteers began work Saturday on what is being called the Grand Island Mural Project.
The endeavor, which will add a giant mural to the back of the Grand Island Plaza, will take about two months to complete, according to Corey McGowan, the project's prime mover. He hopes to unveil the mural by Oct. 13, at the first Taste of Grand Island Fall Festival.
McGowan and volunteers got to work on Saturday morning. Cheryl Chamberlain, a teacher at Grand Island High School, rounded up some volunteers who worked on adding a coat of primer Saturday before a light rain hit.
"Especially in the summertime, it's great to see all these kids out here," McGowan said. The volunteer support has been gratifying.
"Starting this project about three, four weeks ago, I've already seen the generous support from the Islanders," he said. "Through word of mouth, there's just a buzz created about it, and I get phone calls every day asking, 'How can I help, can I make phone calls, I'd like to make a donation.' "
He noted the Hurld family, Fastenal, plaza owner Don Singh, and the Town Highway Department and others have been highly supportive. Artists Adam Horrigan and Terry Klaaren have helped with the logistics of the actual mural itself.
"Gui's Lumber was generous enough to give us a break on a lot of this paint, and they've been helpful in donating brushes, pans, tarps, things like that," McGowan said.
The work begins with a white base coat, followed by designing and painting the mural, and then putting a clear coat over the top of it.
The wall is a daunting 250 feet wide by 14 feet high, especially for an inexperienced painter - "I've never even painted a wall in my kitchen," McGowan said - but many hands make light work.
"The more help we can get, the better," he said. Those who can't lend a hand can still support the project financially.
"Monetary funds would benefit us the most. That way we can go to the suppliers and get the best discount on the supplies we need," McGowan said. "In total, this is probably going to cost us about 5 grand. We have a long ways to go to get there, but I have faith that when people hear about it, the better our chances of getting to our goal."
McGowan said the mural's design is a work in progress, with the main features intended to give a tribute to the Island: the clubhouse at Beaver Island, the lighthouse at the Buffalo Launch Club, an original ferry boat, the Grand Island Fire Co.'s 1938 Engine No. 1, River Lea, a Viking theme, and the Grand Island bridges.
"The buzz about this is really going to get the project done," he said.
For more information, contact McGowan at [email protected] or call 341-1040.