COLUMBIA — The artistic talents of area residents and professional artists have been recognized by the Street Mural Committee in Bike Boulevard’s mural contest finals.
The contest encouraged artists and creative minds to submit two designs, one for each of the street intersections Bike Boulevard runs through. The contest closed to new entries June 8.
The committee chose designs by April Karlovit of Columbia, Sandy Eccles of Canton and Hannah Reeves of Columbia as the finalists.
Karlovit, 59, is an alumna of Columbia College. She is currently working on her second bachelor’s degree and is focusing on being a painting student.
Karlovit said she walks and bikes everywhere, which is why she has become extremely interested in the Bike Boulevard project, she said.
“I hope the town embraces it,” Karlovit said. “This is a really great opportunity to express ourselves as a community in another direction involving everybody.”
Karlovit has worked with murals before in her career. Two of her murals are currently in the Columbia Public Library.
In order to create her designs, Karlovit said she visited the neighborhood several times.
“I thought about it as squaring the circle, and let the space talk to me,” Karlovit said.
She said she chose to include Monarch butterflies in her first design because she has always had a special connection with them. She was inspired when, as a student at Columbia College, she woke up one morning to see a Monarch hung on every single tree around the circle drive of Missouri Hall.
She hopes to pass that feeling along to children walking by the mural on the way to and from school each day.
“Maybe they’ll be inspired to learn more and enjoy color,” she said about her Monarch design.
Karlovit's second design is a green man celebrating rebirth, she said. It represents a community based in nature where bicycles and cars have to live together.
Collectively, her designs took about 20 hours of work to create, she said.
Although not a current Columbia resident, Sandy Eccles said she is hoping to move from her home in Canton back to Columbia in the future. She said she especially loves spending time on Ninth Street.
Eccles referred to herself as the “gypsy woman” because she is constantly moving around the country, from Missouri to Colorado to Oklahoma. She said she moved not only for jobs but also for the experiences.
The 63-year-old artist was inspired to enter the contest after seeing street murals in Portland.
“It took my breath away,” Eccles said. “Street murals are exciting and represent a real progressive community giving people a reason to stop and pause.”
Eccles has lots of experiences with large artwork. She has painted murals on the sides of buildings, sheds, inside vehicles and is currently working on a mural on the side of a building in Canton.
“I love painting large,” Eccles said. “I’m really excited.”
With her experience as a former teacher, Eccles said she loves working with people on projects.
Her first design incorporates four points representing four seasons, four directions and the four elements: earth, water, fire and air.
Her second design is a circle representing community with locally grown foods. Her focus was to design a mural that residents could view from any angle.
Eccles had only a few days to pull together her designs after her friend sent her information about the contest she had found online.
“No matter who wins, I hope there’s some big block party when it’s finished with music, potluck and lawn chairs,” Eccles said.
Hannah Reeves is a resident of Columbia. She did not wish to contribute to the article.
The Street Mural Committee will be putting the final designs on display at public events in Columbia throughout the month of July. The designs were previously shown June 10 at the Downtown Columbia Planning Charrette.
Interested residents are able to vote on PedNet.org for their favorite two designs. Voting will be terminated at the end of July with plans to paint the winning street mural designs with the artist and community members in the month of August.