Just a bit south of the corner of Kellog and Simmons, you can find a colorful mural nearing completion. Every day except Sunday from 8 a.m. until noon, you can find Carla Markwart there with a brush in hand, her clothes and face smudged in bright paint.
Markwart is an artist in Galesburg and the President of the Galesburg Public Art Commission, responsible for various works around town such as the painted trash cans, banners above the Moffit and Bickerdyke Bridge that feature ten different local artists, the Carl Sandburg statue and hosting “Galesburg’s Got Talent” at the Orpheum Theater.
“We just focus on bringing art to the public in different ways,” she said while filling in a portion of the mural.
Despite all the other projects the Public Art Commission has done, this is the first mural they have taken on. It had been talked about for a few years until they finally acquired enough money to get the project started. Painting began on Aug. 31st, and Markwart believes they will be able to finish before Halloween arrives, which is their set goal date.
“I wanted it to coordinate with the farmers market so people could come and volunteer. We did get a few people that way,” Markwart said.
Among those people include Roland Williams Jr., who, although he did not spot her from the farmers market, began helping out after seeing Markwart painting on his way to work. For the last three weeks, he has come to help out in his free time.
Williams is not an artist like Markwart, who jokes about having “art” in her last name, but finds painting relaxing.
“I find it a little therapeutic, doesn’t take too much thought, [Markwart] tells me what to do and where to paint, she’s gotta use her head and I don’t,” Williams said.
Markwart is also on the board for the Galesburg Downtown Council, a property owner’s group. She considers herself as somewhat the liaison to bringing art to town, and had been a leading force with the 33 painted trash cans around town.
Markwart admitted that she’s never painted anything this big, but is already anticipating future projects. The obstacle is always to find the funding for projects like this, but murals are relatively cheap. The drawback is that murals have a limited lifespan, succumbing to the elements over time.
Although Markwart said that she hasn’t had any Knox students come by to paint, she encourages everyone to help out in their free time. Volunteers that have stopped by to lend a hand range from elementary age kids to those that have been long retired.
Like all murals, it will last for about five to ten years until it begins to fade or chip away. Hopefully, there will be projects in the upcoming few years that will continue to add color to the Galesburg landscape.