Paint hits canvas for massive mural

Art is starting to fill the south wall of the Tremont Building in downtown Marshalltown, where a Baltimore artist is turning a blank canvas into Marshalltown’s largest mural to date.

Justin Nethercut, a globally traveling street artist, was selected as the finalist from more than 40 applicants from muralists across the country.

The final design of the mural is a bit of a secret, with the community given the chance to watch the mural come to life in the coming days. Oktemberfest attendees will see the art in progress as they take part in festivities. The piece is meant to inspire, excite and provide a must-see location in downtown Marshalltown.

Nethercut said his design is meant to reflect the natural balance within nature and how humanity’s balance is intertwined with nature.

Part of what brought Nethercut to Marshalltown was his desire to bring his work outside of Baltimore and into other environments.

“The idea of going, honestly, completely to the middle of the country to somewhere completely random that I’ve never been or experienced anything was interesting,” Nethercut said. “Looking up about Marshalltown, there’s a lot of similarities and there’s a lot of differences for sure too, but there’s a lot of similarities between Marshalltown and even Baltimore that has been intriguing. Both kind of like the rust belt, industrial, a little bit beat up older town, but there’s a lot of beauty and a lot of beautiful textures that I haven’t gotten to paint and experience.”

He feels the mural could stimulate attention to Marshalltown and inspire others to come paint in town, having seen potential in the surrounding buildings and environments.

The 30-feet-tall and 120-feet-wide south wall of the Tremont Building is adjacent to the newly renovated parking lot on the corner of West Church Street and South First Street. The mural will also wrap around onto the east wall in the pedestrian alleyway connecting to Main Street.

A celebration in the parking lot to commemorate the mural is slated for Sept. 30 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because it’s hard to determine when a mural will be finished due to weather and other logistical factors, the hope is for the mural to either be completed by the celebration, or visitors will be able to watch the finishing touches put on the artwork at the celebration. Local musicians Austin Chadderdon and Bon Jecci will perform with the new mural as a backdrop, with attendees welcome to bring chairs to spend their evening experiencing music and art.

Marshall County Arts and Culture Alliance Executive Director Amber Danielson who sought funding and headed planning for the mural project said it’s great to finally see paint on the wall. This mural project is among the first the alliance had an idea for and has been in the making for close to two years. More than $30,000 was raised to fund the project.

The alliance also enlisted the help of art students from Marshalltown Community College, who are assisting Nethercut in painting the mural.

Danielson said the mural will provide an opportunity for others to experience art in their own personal way, with the piece having both abstract elements and realism.

“We’re really excited about this design because we really feel like everyone will be able to connect with it in their own unique way and will be able to come up with their own personal thoughts about what it means to them and what they see,” Danielson said.

The celebration in the newly renovated parking lot behind the Tremont Building will also give the community a chance to experience a new gathering space in downtown Marshalltown and to honor the progress made in the area, Danielson said. She believes arts and culture is critical in community development.

“Beautification efforts that include creativity and creating spaces that we would call a ‘must-see’ location are really a draw for tourism, they’re a draw for economic development and really just completely liven a space and transform a space,” she said.

Danielson said the mural program is still just getting started, with plenty of opportunities for more murals in Marshalltown in public spaces, private spaces, parks, trails and in neighborhoods.

Des Moines artist Jimmy Navarro will begin work on a mural in Marshalltown next week located on the south wall of the Thompson True Value, which will be a close second in size for the largest mural in Marshalltown. The Chop Shop Salon located in the 13th Street District is also getting a mural on their north wall with an artist recently commissioned.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.