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Mural takes shape on Duluth's Life Line building

Oscar Lopez spent part of a recent evening perched about 30 feet in the air on scaffolding, painting a greenish shade onto one of the faces in the mural on the west wall outside Life House in downtown Duluth.

Painter
Oscar Lopez with Life House works on painting a new mural on the side of the Life House building Wednesday evening. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Oscar Lopez spent part of a recent evening perched about 30 feet in the air on scaffolding, painting a greenish shade onto one of the faces in the mural on the west wall outside Life House in downtown Duluth.

The 40-by-40-foot piece of art, "Faces of the Future," started with a medicine wheel design and quadrants of color: yellow, blue, green and red. It features people, without designated skin tones: A woman holding a child, men surrounded by children, and family portraits. In the middle is a giant dove.

"We wanted something that said: 'This is Life House,' " said Lopez, the artist in residence at the resource center for homeless teens at 102 W. First St. "Something bright and diverse to promote peace and understanding to the community. To give a visual of what Duluth is about."

The project began in mid-August, after Life House secured a grant from the Northland Foundation, in a partnership with the Valspar Foundation, for a community beautification project. They secured about 35 gallons of paint, five gallons of primer and painting supplies.

The design was decided with input from kids on the Life House Youth Board. The deadline for completion is Nov. 1.

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Lopez is the lead painter on the project and works on the painting on weekday evenings. He is joined by whoever is around at Life House and wants to help. So far, about 10 kids have contributed to the painting process.

"If you want to paint, paint," said Derek Lowry, 19, who was involved with the original design. "Whoever wants to help out."

Some of the faces depicted belong to youth who have come through Life House. Lopez used Life House prom photos as muses.

Marcus Taylor, 20, is into art. He does sketches in his free time, and has contributed some blues and reds to the mural. He said he wants people to notice the art and be inspired by it.

"I want them to think it's cool, and to think maybe they want to do something like it," Taylor said. "To be more creative and to learn something. To know that Life House means something."

Robert McKenzie, 20, was watching the progress on Wednesday. He hasn't been involved with the painting -- his artistic lean is poetry and finger painting, he said.

"I never knew Oscar could paint like that," McKenzie said. "I thought it should have more native women in it."

McKenzie said sometimes he eyeballs things from the ground and lets Lopez know how to size different parts of the mural.

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Lowry, who has a child due in March, said he likes being involved with something in the community.

"I want to be able to show my child, 'Hey, I was a part of that,' " he said. "I have friends on that wall."

Related Topics: ART
Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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