After four meetings about the "Unity in Community" mural in Cascade Park, the Duluth Public Arts Commission approved of the final two designs for the project on Tuesday.
The commission gave the go-ahead to mural coordinator Gene McKeever and Rocky Makes Room For Them during a meeting at the Zeitgeist Arts Building. Both can begin work immediately on the project that divides the park's wall into segments, with five artists each responsible for creating a
piece that ties the mural together as a whole.
Other artists involved with the project -- Laurel Sanders, Jeredt Runions and Oscar Lopez -- already had been approved and have begun painting on the walls at First Avenue West and South Cascade Street, below the intersection of Mesaba Avenue and Seventh Street.
McKeever and Makes Room For Them had twice been asked to re-submit their proposals with more clarity.
McKeever's final concept includes faces representing women in the neighborhood, and Makes Room For Them showed the arts commission floral patterns he plans to work in around the art by the children.
The mural must be completed by Sept. 30.
"Unity in Community" -- originally approved through the city architect's office -- was proposed as a project similar to one completed by Ta-Coumba Aiken, who painted a mural in the student union at the College of St. Scholastica last winter.
In late July, the public was invited to add splashes of color to the wall. Dozens of children painted starbursts, animals and figures. The professional artists planned to divide the wall into segments and create individual designs that incorporated the work of the children. But the project was halted when neighbors expressed concern over the level of artistry.
Mayor Don Ness asked the arts commission to oversee the mural project, and the group asked artists for designs representing the finished product.
McKeever, a portrait artist and collagist, said she has learned a lot about the presentation side of the process, which will come in handy for future projects.
"I'm growing as an artist," she said. "This is just the beginning."
Sanders has advice for artists interested in creating public works in the future:
"Get your pictures ready," she said and laughed.
The arts commission reserves the right to paint over the wall if it does not meet expectations, according to Jonathan Lee, the commission's president, who said he plans to drive past the wall daily until it is completed.