Grants instrumental to mural project success

ROCHELLE – Murals have been popping up in different locations around downtown Rochelle recently and the latest two were hung up on Saturday, June 29.
A 12-foot mural of John Wayne was placed above the Needles Arts and Craft store and a 40-foot mural depicting a nature scene was installed on the side of Bill’s Trading Post. Both murals were painted by Cecilia Schmitt, a college student at Kishwaukee College
The murals adorning several downtown buildings range from Hollywood icons Marilyn Monroe and John Wayne to a detailed nature scene of a deer and a magnolia tree. The life-like scenes vary in size and could not have been completed without the generosity of community members coming together to donate their time and resources.  
“Fran Volz kindly donated the studio space for Cecilia Schmitt to work out of, Frank Smardo permitted the use of the exterior wall of his store Bill’s Trading Post to hang the mural and Bill Schermerhorn volunteered hours of his time and his crew’s time to install the mural on a 94-degree day,” explained Raegan Carmichael, volunteer and member of the brand leadership team.
The mural project took many hours of painting and supplies to complete. Without the determination of the artist and help with funding this project could not have been done.
“I am so proud of Cecilia. She challenged herself and took on this project which took over 80 hours to complete, in addition to her college classes and a job,” Carmichael added. “The tools and supplies needed for this mural began to add up so with the help of Kim Montgomery at the Rochelle Area Community Foundation, we found a partner grant issued through the Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau that was specific to downtown murals to reimburse some of the expenses.”
According to Carmichael, the RACF matched 25 percent of the grant as required in the grant application.
“Without the funding provided by the BWCVB and the RACF and without the help of many volunteers, this mural would not have been possible,” she continued.
Schmitt said working on a project of this scale and seeing so many people come together for one final product has shown the power of teamwork and determination.
“With the help of numerous people, a project that seemed too large to tackle alone became possible. The mural showed me what I can do with my talent and perseverance,” Schmitt commented.
There are no current plans to install any murals in the immediate future, but after seeing the community’s involvement in volunteer based projects Carmichael has high hopes for the future of Rochelle.
“The people in this town are absolutely amazing. With projects like this and the building of Kids Ground, our town is ripe with volunteerism and civic-minded people,” she exclaimed. “My hope for the future of Rochelle is for the community to continue to come together on many more projects so we can all help this town flourish.”


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