Funding picks up for Wall of Fame mural renovation

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chicago artist Thomas Melvin said he expects to start painting at the beginning of August.

Sales of sponsorships for Cape Girardeau's Wall of Fame floodwall mural are picking up, and organizers hope for completion of the project by summer's end.

The Cape Girardeau River Heritage Mural Association announced its plans to update the mural with a new, more polished look in February. The Wall of Fame consists of portraits of famous people in a variety of fields with ties to Missouri.

More than half the money for the $85,000 to $90,000 project will come from selling sponsorships. Initially sales were sluggish, so the association rethought its marketing approach, selling sponsorships for individual portraits or groups of portraits instead of 50-foot sections of the wall.

So far association president Tim Blattner says the plan has worked. Where only two panels had been sold before the new strategy took effect, the association has sold sponsorships to five additional portraits within the past month.

Blattner said parties have expressed interest in other sponsorships.

"The split-panel arrangement has worked out real well, and we're optimistic that everything's going to pan out nicely by the middle of summer," he said.

Blattner said the association hopes to have half the sponsorships sold before Chicago artist Thomas Melvin begins work on the mural.

Melvin was in town recently to get another look at the mural and be part of a Southeast Missouri State University documentary about the Mississippi River Tales mural, on which he was also the lead artist.

From his studio in Chicago Melvin said Thursday he expects to start on painting the wall at the beginning of August. Until then he's booked up with other projects in Chicago and Canada.

"That's the hottest part of the year in Cape Girardeau, right?" joked the easygoing Melvin.

Most of the preliminary work on the wall is ready and he's making miniatures of the portraits for sponsors, Melvin said. Once the painting starts, he hopes to have work completed within about one month, he said, barring unforeseen circumstances like excess rain.

Blattner said once the painting is complete and all the needed sponsorship money is raised plans for a dedication ceremony will be made, but no date has been set thus far.

Anyone interested in sponsorship can call Blattner at 334-3288 or Freck Shivelbine at 335-8862.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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