It's certainly better than nothing, and "nothing" right now is an eyesore.
Considering all the time and effort that he’s obviously invested in it, it seems downright unfair, upon a first glance at CHS art teacher Gary Stegman’s proposed mural for the JJ’s Bodyshop wall downtown, to conclude that something is better than nothing at that prominent corner.
But that’s a fact nonetheless. Something is better than nothing, because “nothing” right now is nothing but an empty lot and an exposed brick wall on the north side of a building that for many decades was covered up by the former Palace/Wayne Hotel building at the corner of Second Street and North Main.
While the Crookston City Council may have identified minor to significant aesthetic improvements at the site as a top priority – some greenery and possibly a semi-decent parking lot have been discussed – it’s been almost two years since the historic building was torn down, and the wall that’s been exposed since the demolition is an eyesore.
Talk of possibly having a mural on the wall commenced since almost day one, but such talk makes some people skittish. That’s mostly because murals are generally big – they don’t get any bigger or more visible than the gigantic one on the back wall of the Grand Theatre – and once you commit to one, it’s a pretty major commitment. What if a lot of people don’t like it? What if people don’t get it? What if it’s ugly?
It wouldn’t be that difficult to shore up the current wall a bit – it needs some tuck-pointing – and simply put a nice coat of paint on the whole thing. That, too, would be better than nothing.
But Stegman has come up with something that’s really quite “something.” It’s a mural made up of tiles that, apparently, requires the use of some type of false wall. It’s a pretty significant project, so he’s seeking, with the city’s assistance, a Legacy Amendment grant up to $10,000. City council members endorsed the city becoming the “fiscal agent” in the grant application, but they want a chance to weigh in on what’s chosen for the wall at a later date. JJ’s Bodyshop owner Jodi Dragseth also would like to have a say, since it’s her wall and all.
Stegman’s piece includes sort of an inspirational, motivational saying above a scene that depicts the lobby of the Palace Hotel from its heyday many decades ago.
Will most people like it? Probably. Will people get it? Locals, yes, others, probably not...but it will catch their eye as they go by. Is it ugly? No, it looks pretty cool. How it would actually translate to the wall is probably something only people like Stegman know at this point.
Whether or not any grant funds are awarded, the wall needs to be dealt with. Stegman has come up with something signficant, and whether his creation is approved in its current form or modified, his work deserves serious consideration.