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The art of Oshkosh: Murals highlight community

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The art of Oshkosh

This mural on an old filling station in Oshkosh commemorates King Riley Sr. and King Riley Jr., a race car driver and a daring crop duster pilot.

OSHKOSH – Making your way around Oshkosh, one can’t help but notice the number or murals on different businesses and buildings around the town.

Garden County Schools art instructor Lauren Olson and her students are primarily responsible for the creations, beginning in 2013 with a mural on the Olde Town Hall near the municipal swimming pool.

When the swimming pool originally closed due to deterioration, Olson said she wanted to paint the mural in the park.

“Some people didn’t think it was going to be very attractive with a run down pool, and you’ve got this mural going,” Olson said.

Olson’s fifth graders did a project with an overhead view of Oshkosh, and that view is part of that original work.

Olson said she is now up around 50 projects, not all in Oshkosh. She has a mural on a business in Chappell that is a tribute to the Highway 30 route that goes through the town. Another project is in the gymnasium in Big Springs.

Many of the murals include windmills or themes relating to goose hunting to reflect the area.

To begin a project, Olson will take measurements of the building, then do a digital recreation on Photoshop to figure out a plan for the space.

A racing-themed mural is on an old filling station commemorating King Riley Sr. and King Riley Jr. King Riley Sr. was a successful racer at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. Junior is remembered as a daring crop duster pilot, so there are cars and planes on the mural.

The most recent project is a Nebraska-themed mural on the back of Nebraska State Bank. Within each letter of the state name is something representing Nebraska from corn to Cornhuskers to the state capitol to Chimney Rock.

“This is one of the most challenging I’ve put my students up to,” Olson said of the Nebraska mural.

Olson said the owners of the bank, Bill and Joyce Olson (no relation), were instrumental in helping with early projects, donating supplies and money to the projects, so Lauren Olson said it was an honor to place a mural on the bank.

“He had recently passed away, so I talked to his daughters about painting a mural on the bank,” Olson said. “It was just a big, white building, and they were down with that. It’s just a tribute to Bill and Joyce Olson and everything they’ve done for our community. I knew the students would appreciate the community service, and he would have appreciated that, too. It’s a project I was just going to do on my own, but then I thought Bill would want the kids to be a part of this.”

PHOTOS: Oshkosh Art Murals


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