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Muralists group set to paint Butler’s history

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
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Bantam Jeep mural design
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Their canvas is a blank wall.

The Walldogs are a group of highly skilled painters and mural artists from all over the globe, who fashion murals representing subjects of historical importance.

The group’s next project will be created from July 27 to 31 in Butler, where 100 artists will paint 10 murals for the Butler Brush-Up, an International Walldog Mural Event. The artists have teamed with the Butler County Historical Society for this event.

On the evening of July 27, the mural designs will be displayed via overhead projectors. Painting begins the next day.

“Then the paint marathon begins,” says Scott “Cornbread” Lindley, mural coordinator from outside Springfield, Ill. “We love to paint, and we do it because sometimes a community forgets where it came from.

“For us, it’s an obsession. It’s like base jumping, only with paint brushes, so we will pay our way to do it,” he says. “These paintings are works of art that people in that area and beyond can relate to when they see them. It’s also nice to see something you painted preserved on a wall.”

The Walldogs volunteer their time and travel expenses from as far as Canada, New Zealand, London and Barbados. Often the host city or area will help with housing and hotel discounts. Some will stay in hotels, others with members of the Butler community and a few in campers.

The society also provides meals for the Walldogs.

The historical society’s cost for the materials is in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $5,500 per wall, Lindley says, which the society pays for through fundraising and sponsorship.

“It is so interesting to see the transformation from a blank wall to the finished mural, “ says Pat Collins, executive director of the historical society. “It is great to have something pretty and expressive instead of a blank wall. These walls will tell the story of what makes Butler great. It will bring back memories.”

Subjects range from General Richard Butler and Old Butler Brewery to Bantam Jeep and Pullman-Standard. Sizes range from 12 feet by 12 feet to 34 feet by 17 feet.

Artists chose from a list of subjects and photos provided by the historical society to create their designs.

Depending on the weather, painters start as early as 6:30 a.m. and often continue until 1 or 2 a.m.

There are two ways to invite The Walldogs. One is to host a Walldog Festival and the other is to commission Walldog artists to paint one or more murals.

They don’t just paint pretty scenes, Collins says. Their work details the history of the place where they are painting, making the walls come to life. The murals will become a walking tour, with histories of the subjects that will be available through a quick response code through your smart phone.

The Walldogs are an international group of sign painters, graphic artists and other talented individuals, who reunite annually to entertain and transform a community with their special brand of art.

This project will celebrate the colorful history of Butler’s founders, the people, events, industry and small businesses that shaped today’s Butler County.

The Butler Walldog committee has been digging through the past to find interesting history so that it can be preserved for a long time, long after the paint has dried.

While the historical society through sponsors pays for materials, wall owners must give their permission. Most say they appreciate the importance of keeping the history alive, Collins says.

It has taken four years to get this project off the ground. With the Internet, the artists have been able to view the buildings to see the space with which they will be working.

“They love doing it,” Collins says. “It is a wonderful opportunity for Butler to be able to showcase its history for a long, long time.”

Details: 724-283-8116 or butlerwalldogs.com or walldogs.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7889 or [email protected].

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