The River Arts on Water building in Prairie du Sac is full of art and color inside, but now it wears a bit of that on the exterior as well.
A mural, named “Starry Prairie” was installed on the backside of the building facing the Wisconsin River and Great Sauk State Trail, depicting the native plants and animals of the area.
The work was designed and painted by Mary Dickey and Rhonda Nass. It was installed by Bernie Poff of Polliwog Studio.
“They’re volunteer curators and they’re both artists that we represent here as well,” said River Arts Inc. Executive Director Lindsey Giese. “Mary has done other public art pieces and has done a lot of mosaic work, Rhonda (is) a painter, but she does color pencil, graphite, acrylic and she’s very much more in detail and Mary is very much more bigger picture… It’s really cool how they can work together.”
The synthesis of the two artists’ styles creates a unique portrait of Wisconsin nature.
“The trail just keeps getting better as time goes on,” said Great Sauk Trail Commission Chairman Marty Kreuger. “This isn’t the only addition, there are more additions planned… I’ve been working with Lindsey and the Chamber trying to put together an event with the Friends (of the Great Sauk Trail) to celebrate the art on the trail, and also transition the effort towards Baraboo.”
The mural was partially paid for with a grant from the Sauk County UW Extension, Arts & Culture Committee and Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. The overall cost was about $10,000.
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“River Arts Inc., our organization, looking forward has decided to make public art more prevalent in our goals,” Giese said. “Our mission is to inspire, enrich and educate the community through the arts.”
The possibility of an art mural on the wall of the La Mexicana restaurant on Water Street in Sauk City is currently being discussed. “That would be exciting for Sauk,” Giese said. “There’s not really a bad place for public art.
Beneath the back deck area where the mural is placed, a strip of native flowers rests next to the Great Sauk Trail.
Giese emphasized the back deck of the River Arts on Water is a public space during operating hours, and locals are welcome to bring food or beverages and enjoy lunch and socialize in the space.
“No questions asked, they can come,” Giese said. “I wish it was full of people all day long.”
Giese said more public art will be coming in the future.
“Each year we’re going to look at opportunities and see how that develops,” Giese said. “We know we want to be very active about bringing art to the Sauk Prairie area…. We’re still assessing what is the next step.”