Murals on Main Street

Published 12:58 pm Saturday, May 1, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The improvements to downtown Niles continued on Tuesday with the hanging of seven originally-painted murals on the old D&K Variety Store facade.
The colorful murals, which depict a variety of window scenes, cover up the bricked-in windows that were discovered after the "Big Brown Takedown" was completed in the 100 block of Main Street.
The murals were painted by South Bend, Ind., artist David Blodgett and his wife, Linda Crimson. The couple used latex acrylic paint to decorate the 4 x 8 foot pieces of wood, which were bolted to the former D&K Variety Store, 115 E. Main St., on Tuesday afternoon.
Niles Downtown Development Authority director Lisa Croteau came up with the idea after attending a National Main Street Town Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, and seeing the effect of Trompe L'Oeil artwork firsthand.
Croteau described this technique as a way to create architectural depth to buildings with the use of art.
Croteau contacted Blodgett, an artist known for his work with murals and a variety of other forms of art, and asked to him to create a set of murals that would cover up the eye sore located on the upper floor of the downtown building.
She gave him free artistic reign with a suggestion to create window scenes that would depict ideas of what the empty building could be used for.
Blodgett, who is currently working on a historical mural for the Buchanan Public Library, painted window scenes of fictitious businesses like "The Plant n Pot Shop," "Eve's Ballet Studio," "Sargent Oil Portraits," and "Rick's Cafe American."
Not only do the murals provide a unique aesthetic quality to downtown Niles, they were also a cost effective way to improve on the look of the old building.
She said the building is currently tied up in a complicated litigation situation with no definite end in sight.
Croteau hopes the murals will generate an added interest to the building when it does go on the market. The murals are removable if the future buyer of the building is not interested in keeping them there.