City High Art Club Paints it Red, White, and Blue


The teachers from the Art Department and two students work on painting the mural.

Owen Sorenson, Reporter

Enduring the increasingly cold weather, the City High art department has masterfully painted a mural of the American Flag on the back of the American Legion building.

“It’s fun to take that sort of thing outside of the classroom and beyond the school and doing our thing on the community level,” Dan Peterson, an art teacher from City High, said.

It was an unexpected opportunity and the art department wasn’t originally searching to paint a mural. It was, in fact, the American Legion who initially reached out to the department. Both excited and confident, they accepted the offer.

“We hadn’t contacted any businesses and this is the first mural that we had done [with] the high school other than in school [commissions]. I don’t know if there was someone who had a son or daughter who was attending here,” Another art teacher at City High, Michael Close said. “I know that a lot of people, after doing this, had kids who went here years ago, but I mean it was just nice for them to recognize that we are on the same side of the river and we [have] some talented students.”

To Shaffer Harwood, the Commander for the Sons of the American Legion, the mural wasn’t just a fun idea that they had come up with. It also served as a symbol of what the American Legion represents, and hopes that it would inspire questions in the students at the neighboring school.

“I thought it would be great to have the flag on the back of the building,” Commander for the Sons Shaffer Hardwood said. “Maybe students at the school [Willowwind] might be curious as to know what we are all about and potentially have the teachers maybe explain that to them”

Painting this mural was a first of many for the art department. They have painted murals prior to this opportunity, however, they have all been within the school grounds. This project was also the first time that they had painted a mural on an exterior wall.

“[We have] not [painted a mural] outside of school, so that was a first,” Peterson said. “The town kind of has [a] mural fever right now, so it was exciting to have this project drop into our lap even though they pretty much just cold called us.”

Creating art is a passion for both the teachers and the student that took part in the project. However, there were many other enjoyable parts to painting the mural. For both Peterson and Close, it was the interaction with the people of the American Legion.

“I really liked the interaction with the people that were coming and going from there and just the positive reinforcement that they were all giving,” Close said, “You could tell that this was meaningful to them even if it didn’t have a deep underlying meaning for us.”

With creating a new piece of art for the first time comes many different challenges as well as a steep learning curve. This was no different for the art department. There were multiple different challenges and nuisances that they had to figure before they finished painting. The most pressing difficulty, however, was time management.

“Time management. We had to do it in real short bursts to get the kids involved and to work with our work schedule, I mean we are here all day,” Peterson said. “Otherwise its weather since it was outdoors. There was a couple of days where [the] weather was almost an issue, but we never got rained out and never got too cold so we got lucky in that department.”

Despite the steep learning curve of the project, those who participated in the project took something away from the experience. For Peterson, it was both answering the more practical questions as well as learning the different techniques of painting a mural for the first time on an exterior wall.

“As our first mural project, there was a lot of logistics that we had to figure out like and try like where do you order paint, what type of paint do you use on an exterior wall, and what do you have to do to that paint to treat it,” Peterson said. “We had to do a lot of research, we had to call some friends, and we had to order paint from a special place. There was a pretty steep learning curve and we had to figure it out on our own, but that was fun.”

With completely new projects always comes the risk of not having enough students dedicated or excited to assist in the new endeavor. This, of course, was evident in this project as there was only a handful of students that attended the art club. Despite the lack of students, the art department is hopeful that more students will be excited and attend for the next mural project.

“I think for this one we didn’t have as many students as we had hoped,” Close said. “But I think after this one I think that a lot of people have seen this now and I definitely have heard a lot of people say ‘Oh I wish I could [have] helped’ and ‘I wish I could have been there’ so hopefully the next time we do something like this, after students have seen what we actually do, there will be a little bit more excitement for the next one.”

In addition to being confident with a higher student turn out, the art department plans to embark on another mural project the next time another opportunity becomes available.

“Yes, that is always one of the fun parts of these types of projects,” Peterson said. “Do them once and then do it a lot better and faster the next time and you’re excited to do it the next time.”