The Good Life in Ashby [UPDATED]Published 9:42am Thursday, August 9, 2012 Updated 9:43am Thursday, August 9, 2012
The theme of the Ashby Arts Commission’s projects for 2011 was “The Good Life in Ashby.” One of the three projects completed by artists in the area was a community mural. This mural was unveiled on the side of JC’s Grocery store in Ashby on July 16, 2011. The mural was a culmination of work by 56 Ashby area artists ranging in age from 2 to 88.
In 2010, Ashby City Council appointed an Arts Commission at the request of City Clerk, Val Martin. The group’s purpose was and is to provide arts access to members of the Ashby area. The Commission members met several times in 2010 with Maxine Adams, Director of Lake Region Arts Council. Those initial Commission members included Val Martin, Camille Schultz, Helen Etnier, Carol Ulrich, Marcia Koefod, Meghann Roley and Mariah Nelson. A grant application was submitted to LRAC and approved. The City of Ashby was awarded the first “Arts Legacy City” designation in the state of Minnesota by Lake Region Arts Council. The grant would pay for this community mural, along with a workshop directed by Heart of the Beast Theater and a community talent show.
Camille Schultz, Ashby Public School art teacher, was hired as lead artist for the mural project and the work began!!! Several meetings were held at the onset of the project to decide what the mural would contain. All community members were encouraged to attend these initial meetings, whether they wanted to participate in the project or not. A great deal of time was dedicated to the planning of the mural. What needs to be included? What would the theme be? As Camille guided the artists and volunteers through this process, it became apparent there were so many great things about the Ashby area and “The Good Life in Ashby” became the theme of the project. The group worked very hard to include all those great and important things on the mural: businesses, activities, farming, lakes and other landscapes. “The Good Life in Ashby” held a different meaning for each individual.
The mural is painted on 4 panels. The first panel contains history such as the Lakota and Ojibwe Native American Tribes, the Kittson Hotel (which no longer exists) among other things. This panel also contains Lake Christina and the wildlife art. Panel two is the downtown area and the Memorial Day parade. Panel three features the fire hall, police, Peace Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church and the former Trinity Lutheran Church. Panel four has the school, Pelican Lake, water activities and at the very end is a look into the future. We’re all sure the future holds great opportunities for the Ashby community.
All community members were encouraged to participate in the actual project, whether they were novice or seasoned artists. Thumbnail sketches and ideas were put together in April, the layout was completed in April and May and painting started in May. The project was unveiled in July with the paint still wet. Some additional items were added to the mural after the unveiling and the project was considered complete after the varnish was applied in the fall. The work was done in the art room at the Ashby School. The project was done after regular classroom hours and after school was out with both students and adults lending their talent. John House, wildlife artist from Melby, came in for a special session to help teach those present about wildlife art. John also contributed his artwork to the mural.
The Ashby Community is lucky to have so many dedicated individuals that lent their hand to this project starting with our lead artist Camille Schultz. Camille dedicated her free time to this project from the start and saw it through completion. There were other individuals that spent many hours on the mural project including Carrie Fisher, Carol Ulrich, Tonia Fitzsimmons, Karisa Heinrich, and Lois Ellingson. These individuals spent over 500 hours combined on this project.
There were also a number of community members that helped in other ways such as clean up, priming, installation, and donation of materials. As Camille related at the dedication, “this is the peoples’ mural.” The project was done with supplies from the community, many of which were donated.
The Ashby area residents are extremely fortunate to have such a beautiful, vibrate community to live in and enjoy. We are also fortunate to have so many people with a commitment to keep this city growing and prospering. It truly is “the good life in Ashby.”
The project was funded by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.