Roscoe celebrates its first mural

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Photo: Forest City Gear, Facebook

The people of Roscoe, the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB), the Village of Roscoe, and artist Thomas Agran celebrated the completion of Roscoe's first mural on Thursday, August 25, 2022. The mural overlooks the northside parking lot between Mary’s Shear Artistry and Harlem Roscoe Fire Department Station 1 next door. Because of rain, the artist continued painting into Thursday.

The 1,300 sq. ft. mural depicts an aerial view of Roscoe and the Rock River. The Village of Roscoe paid $15,000 toward the project, with the rest of the $30,000 cost contributed by  Forest City Gear in memory of Wendy Young, by Brian Erickson in memory of his father Eldon, and by Al Rinaldi.

Jean Seegers, senior correspondent for Rockton-Roscoe News and long-time Roscoe resident, had been lobbying for a mural in Roscoe for several years. Village trustees indicated their support for the idea at their Nov. 17, 2021 Committee of the Whole meeting. It made it onto a proposed project list for the 2022 Appropriation Ordinance.



At the May 17, 2022 meeting, Village administrator Scott Sanders recommended entering into an agreement with the RACVB (Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau) for a mural in downtown Roscoe, suggesting Thomas Agran should paint it. Sanders also said the large gray Masonic Building at 10536 Main Street would be the best location. In the heart of Main Street Roscoe, it faces north and would be protected from sun-fading.

At their July 19, 2022 meeting, the Village of Roscoe board unanimously approved the mural project, with half of its $30,000 cost already covered by private donors.

CRE8IV (pronounced “Creative”) is an "art-infused program" bringing public murals and sculptures to Rockford, Rockton, Loves Park, Pecatonica and now Roscoe. Roscoe's first mural is the final mural of the 2022 CRE8IV season and the 34th mural created as part of the RACVB-led public art program.

For more information about CRE8IV - including a public art map and other resources - visit www.gorockford.com/cre8iv or follow @GoRockford on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Roscoe Village Administrator Scott Sanders says Roscoe has a good relationship with the RACVB, even though "we don't have a hotel" or a conference center. The RACVB has helped promote our local museum, Historic Auto Attractions, and has written letters of support for our road projects.

Last July, a sunflower mural was painted in Rockton, which was CRE8IV's first in the Stateline area. At the time, planning and development administrator Trisha Diduch said they were looking for more sponsors and locations for more murals in the Village of Rockton. Artist Brett Whitacre has painted two murals in Pecatonica and one in Loves Park. Dustin Eckhardt created another one in Loves Park. Besides those six, all the other CRE8IV murals are in Rockford.

For the third year, Painters Union District 30, Local 607 has taken part in CRE8IV by prepping and priming the walls prior to the muralists arriving.

Artists were selected through an open Call for Artists process and a local committee-led selection process. Proposals came from more than 90 local and visiting artists from around the country, including a few from other countries. The selected artists represent a diverse group of local and visiting artists with varied backgrounds and artistic approaches.

Though not local, artist Thomas Agran was already locally known for his drafthorse mural at Magpies in Rockford. His work includes private commissions, large municipal state work in historically sensitive areas, as well as community engaged and participatory mural and public art projects. Besides teaching painting and drawing at the University of Iowa and installing murals on large walls, Agran also creates smaller paintings in his studio.

Agran has designed, executed, managed, and mentored dozens of mural projects. He worked for three years as the Director of Public Art for the Iowa City Downtown District and served on the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission. Agran is also a consultant for murals and other public art projects and programs.

Agran was born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio, and currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa. Agran says he is "particularly dedicated to the Midwestern landscape, its total transformation through agriculture, and the political, social, and environmental consequences of that change." Some of his paintings also explore the complicated nexus of food, agriculture, nostalgia, and marketing. He is interested in the Midwest both for its charms as well as its challenges.

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (RACVB) promotes public art as part of its job of promoting the Rockford region as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Travel and tourism strengthens the economic position of the region and provides opportunities for people in our communities.

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