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OUR VIEW: Public art projects tie into tourism

THE ISSUE: 80-foot-high art going in downtown Mendota
OUR VIEW: Public art a great way to engage visitors

Mendota is looking to capture visitors' eyes and imagination with public art.

A display will depict a 68-by-20 foot ear of fresh golden corn — a fitting sight for the home of the Sweet Corn Festival and Del Monte Foods — and quite the scale to grab attention.

The top of the ear of corn will be 80 feet in the air, while the bottom of the ear of corn will start above ground level for optimal viewing of the art from a distance, including the downtown area and along the Amtrak train.

"You'll see art work traveling through Mendota by train or car and it's sure to create interest for people to spend time in our city," said Mayor David Boelk.

... and that's a selling point.

Capturing a visitor's interest and compelling them to stop in your town is the biggest hurdle in tourism. Once someone is there, there's a chance they stop for a bite to eat, get caught window shopping, buy gas, etc.

“This project will be hugely colorful and visually positive,” said artist Ray Paseka, installation creator, artist and owner of Westclox Studios in Peru. “The natural brightness of these colors will be very eye-catching and memorable. Artwork on this level will leave a lasting impression on many people.” 

"Mendota Gold," as it will be called, is the first art installation on a silo for the Silo Pathways Project. The NCI ARTworks group played a huge role in bringing the Vintage Mural Wall to Heritage Park in Streator, which has helped beautify the downtown and rectify a wall considered an eyesore.

We've seen the success of murals in Ottawa and Pontiac in drawing tourists, or keeping them for longer stays as they stroll town taking pictures with their cameras, taking in local storefronts along their walks.

Streator is hoping for similar success as it welcomes the Walldogs into town to paint 16 murals, which will depict different aspects of the city's history.

The Silo Pathways project hopes to spread public art across communities in La Salle, Bureau and Putnam counties. Their mission also is to engage local residents in art works on a grand scale and open that world known in big cities and college towns to smaller, rural communities.

Chris Coughlin, president of NCI ARTworks, has said during the dedicaton of the mural at Heritage Park in Streator this is only the beginning of more to come.

We're excited to see these projects take shape and give our local communities more personality, which in turn can be a boost to local tourism.

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