Five Huge Fish: A Story on How They Came to Be

five huge fish: A Story on How They Came to Be
Story and Photos by Kristin Allen

A while back, when I was hanging with my idols (previous blog post), Mary Wohnoutka and Sandy Saulsbury, this is what we thought up: A huge fish mural on a long wall next to the highway in Spicer, MN.

I was lucky enough to work with the fine ladies of the Spicer Beautification Committee during several meetings over the spring and summer of 2022, when we planned, they organized, we negotiated the use of the wall, they raised money and found helpers, I built the mural map and then we picked a week to paint with the public. After a lot of prep, the deadline was set.

Huge, huge THANKS go out to my friend, Jared, and my son, Wyatt, who helped me get the grid taped up and the primer on the raw cement. That ended up being a lot more work than we anticipated, but these guys helped me so much. And HOT — geez, it was hot.

We saved the first painting day to train the Beautification Committee members about just how the process worked. I wanted to prove to them that it really was easy to give the public some simple painting instructions. Once they had painted a square themselves, they understood. When the public painting began, they were handing out assignments and loading paint palettes like they had done it a million times before. “Just paint what you see!” was their send-off to every hesitant painter. It was great!

Many people around the area came to paint an individual square that contributed to the texture and character of this mural–thank you–these five huge fish are yours in a very tangible way. For all of you who stopped or slowed or honked to tell us we were doing great work or show your support – thanks. This mural is yours, too.

Thanks to the City of Spicer and Bonnema Hardware for their partnership on the project. Thanks to the many community members who donated to the Beautification Committee’s fundraising efforts. Thank you to B&M Electric for the funky scissor lift. Thank you to Chad Lien and his team for all the ground support. Thank you to John Scheeval, who is an experienced, skilled and happy schlepper; every project needs one. Thank you to Maria, who brought me some emergency primer. Thank you to my husband, Ryan, who kept me healthy through all the sweltering, hard workdays.

If you’re interested in stats, our friend, Barb Ree, kept an excellent tally: There were 15 Beautification Committee members organizing and leading 111 volunteer painters who painted 237 unique squares in approximately 17 hours over 5 days between August 29 and September 2 of 2022. This 1 artist is so very grateful for the opportunity to work on this project!

Big respect for the Spicer Beautification Committee. Every town should have such a wonderful resource. This is a conference room full of big visions, smarts and hard work right here. Thanks so much for all you do!

Read More Stories and Blog Posts from Kristin Allen by Clicking Here

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