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Woodstock finally gets its neighborhood mural on the boulevard

by: MERRY MACKINNON - Production Manager Heidi Schultz puts the finishing touches on a 54-foot-long mural on the wall of the Red Fox Vintage building, at the corner of Woodstock Boulevard and S.E. 46th Avenue. A project begun by Woodstock Neighborhood Association volunteers, the mural became a reality through grants, donations from local businesses, and the work of local artists. Originally, the Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) planned a community mural on the east wall of the Lutz Tavern. Issues arose that eventually stalled that effort; but now WNA has a mural – a different one than originally planned for the Lutz location – on the side of a new local business nearby.

The making of the new mural on the west wall of Red Fox Vintage involved a joint effort by neighborhood residents, local institutions, and businesses, just as the mural itself conceptualizes. Located along the south side of Woodstock Boulevard near Southeast 46th Avenue, the recently completed mural’s manifesto is “community”.

Some of the appealing elements depict the creation of a vibrant Woodstock – the people, the shops, the library, the Mandarin Immersion School, and the farmers market. These are represented in the mural with iconic figures placed in those familiar settings.

Pointing at an arc of Chinese script within the mural, Heidi Schultz, Mural Production Manager and owner of Art & Design, told THE BEE that it translates as: “It’s a great place to live.”

But the mural is also rich in latent symbolism with more mysterious content – signified, for instance, by the wings of Mercury (the Roman god of commerce), attached to the shopkeeper’s cap; by an owl perched on the shoulder of a girl at the library, who is clutching a tiger lily; and by the flaming torch on a long pole shouldered by a woman at the farmers market.

It was the Woodstock Neighborhood Association that first lit the flame “and got the mural going,” said Schultz, who was hired to paint the mural, the design of which was e-mailed to her by Artist Mike Lawrence.

Schultz’s role began with that digital template, which she patterned out on the wall. Then came the mixing of the paint, the painting of the mural, and the adding of the clear protective coating, as she explained in November while putting on the finishing touches.

From inception to completion, the 54-foot-long and 15-foot-tall public art display was realized thanks to Mural Committee Project Manager Kenny Heggem and other volunteers from the Woodstock Neighborhood Association, a grant from Regional Arts and Culture Council, Illustrator Mike Lawrence, and Painter Heidi Schultz. Also contributing was Sherwin Williams Paint, located several blocks east on 52nd, which donated many gallons of paint, and also Beaver State Scaffolding, which donated the extended use of its scaffolding.

“It’s definitely a community project,” Schultz emphasized.

After the mural was finished, it became party time – and the public was invited to Red Fox Vintage on the afternoon of December 14th to celebrate with friends and neighbors. There was food and “vintage” music, circa the 1980s.

“We put on a community party to celebrate the mural that committee members worked really hard to raise money for,” Heggem smiled, adding that the artist was present at the festivities to share the mural’s vision and symbolism.