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Red Rock begins mural project

FAIRMONT — Downtown Fairmont will soon see some more color. The Red Rock Center for the Arts is launching a public mural project.

The project is something director Sonja Fortune said she’s been wanting to do for many years.

“There was grant money available to slide this project in, so I decided that it was time to make it happen,” Fortune said.

The Red Rock Center was eligible for a $15,000 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board this year due to Covid.

“It’s helping to keep us going through these difficult times,” Fortune said.

Some of the money is going toward free concerts in the park this summer, hiring art instructors for education classes, making updates to the art room and the mural project.

“Since we couldn’t bring people inside, we decided we’re going to make art available for people to see outside as well,” Fortune said.

An area artist, Nancy Katzer, has volunteered her time and talent to create the first one, which both Fortune and Katzer hope will be the first of many more to come.

“The thought behind this is to inspire and create awareness of the public art while adding beauty to our downtown and encouraging a creative environment,” Fortune said.

Fortune had put out a notice seeking building owners who were interested in offering up one of their walls for the purpose and she had five come forward. She said some locations were more favorable than others, but they selected the south-facing wall of Five Crazy Ladies Boutique in Downtown Plaza.

“Downtown is full of blank canvases just waiting to be brought to life, so we thought that was a good place to start,” Fortune said.

Fortune said they’ve taken all of the necessary steps including letting the city know what they would be doing.

“You have to have permission from building owners to do this. We want to make sure it’s appropriate and is used to beautify and draw positive attention to our community,” Fortune said.

Katzer has always had an interest in art and has painted professionally the last 20 years. She works in theater art. She has previously painted the background sets for Borchardt Dance Company’s recitals and does most of her work in Minneapolis for Children’s Theater, The Guthrie and Minnesota Opera.

She’s also no stranger to community art projects. She previously lived in New Orleans for two years while helping take care of her grandchildren. There she participated in an art guild.

In 2013, Katzer went with a with a friend to Kewanee, Illinois, where she painted on several murals with a group called The Walldogs. The Walldogs meet every summer and Katzer said they paint 10-15 murals in three days. All of the artists are volunteers.

“It was really a wonderful experience. The community all came together. They had spent five years raising money to help pay for all the supplies for us to paint everything,” Katzer said.

Katzer has painted on many murals, but this is the first time she is designing one. The theme is celebrating the arts. Katzer is working on the rendering now with the intention of starting the mural by June 1.

Fortune said they’ll be involving community members at the ground level. She said they will have time slots available for community members to come and help paint.

Katzer hopes that the community will take an interest in the project and be willing to help out.

“It’s to better Fairmont. I think it will be fun,” Katzer said.

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