Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Unveiling scheduled for historic murals at county courthouse

November 1, 2006

The courthouse murals are going up.

On Dec. 8, an unveiling celebration will be held to commemorate three murals painted by area artists.

The historic murals portray the challenges faced by early Kansas settlers.

Canvas murals by Ernst Ulmer and Michael Young will be glued to the walls above the courthouse stairway. Frames will be attached to the wall around each mural. And a third mural, slightly smaller, will be stretched over a wooden frame and hung at the front of the commissioners' meeting room.

"I'm thrilled," said Keyta Kelly, Leavenworth County counselor and one of those instrumental in the mural project. "I think it's good for the county. And it's gone far beyond what we thought it would. I haven't heard any negative comments."

The project began rather inadvertently, with Commissioner Clyde Graeber saying something should be hung on the blank wall at the front of the commissioners' room.

Kelly and others decided to see about obtaining an historical painting for the wall. They first talked to an out-of-county artist who quoted a $30,000 price.

But area residents complained because they wanted an artist from Leavenworth County to paint the mural.

So, early last summer, Kelly and others on the committee sought proposals and bids from local artists.

"We started interviewing and found that there was a plethora of all kinds of talented people," Kelly said. "And then we decided to see if we could push to get three murals."

In August, commissioners approved the purchase of the murals for a total price of $34,000. Kelly said the murals top off the county's recently completed $5 million courthouse renovation project.

And they will add to a collection of framed historic photographs -- taken in Leavenworth County -- that last year were hung in the courthouse.

Kelly's interested in making the courthouse a destination.

"We're hoping that when people come down to see the murals that they'll tell their friends," Kelly said. "And as more people come to see the murals, hopefully they'll stop to eat, get gas, something of that nature."

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