Travelers always notice the Whole Wall Mural as they pass through Concordia, KS. It’s difficult not to notice the three-dimensional mural measuring 140 feet long with five sections 15 feet high and two sections 20 feet high. Many travelers have already stopped in this year to take a closer look and to learn more about how the Wall came to be. So, what is the Whole Wall Mural and how did it come to fruition?
Why the Whole Wall Mural?
The Cloud County Historical Society purchased the former Everitt Hardware building in August 2003. The City had torn down the old laundromat on the east side of the building which exposed a rather unflattering wall. After discussing several options, it was decided to pursue the installation of a brick mural depicting the rich history of Cloud County.
Who designed the Whole Wall Mural?
The Historical Society searched for brick sculptors over the internet and found two artists. Each artist was given the opportunity to tour Cloud County and submit a drawing portraying their vision for the project. Artist Catharine Magel from St. Louis, Missouri was chosen for the project. She is an internationally known artist working in ceramics, mosaic and painting. Catharine chose Mara Smith from Seattle, Washington as her lead assistant.
David Fleming owner of Fleming Masonry Construction from Culver, Kansas was chosen to install the brick mural. Fleming is a former Concordian, (CHS graduate, Class of 1972). His team included, brick mason Brian Blasé, from Sylvan Grove, KS and brick tender Tyler Kuhn, from Minneapolis, KS.
What does the artwork on the Whole Wall Mural depict?
The Whole Wall Project, titled “Cloud Anthologies” by the artist, uses elements of architecture, commerce, customs, geography, and history to tell the story of a people with a spirited past, vibrant present and hopeful future.
There are 24 visual representations of Cloud County showcased in the Mural, including;
1. Glasco Medical Clinic
2. Republican River Bridge
3. Brown Grand Theatre
4. Cloud County Courthouse
5. St. Joseph Church
6. Wesleyan College Administration Building
7. Sisters of St. Joseph Nazareth Convent
8. Charles Blosser’s 1928 Lincoln Page biplane
10. Baker Monitor Windmill
11. The River
13. 1935 John Deere “A” Tractor
15. Orphan Train Riders
16. Sunflowers abloom
17. Pioneer Women and Man planting seeds
18. Cloud Ceramics
19. WWII German POW Camp Concordia
20. The Cottonwood Tree
21. American soldier and German POW
22. Army Truck driven by Terry Householter
23. The Train
24. Prairie Gem School
How was the Whole Wall Mural constructed?
An easel measuring 18 feet wide and 7 feet 10 inches high was constructed at the Cloud County Community College Art Department. The artists drew out the entire, full size mural onto tracing paper, making it 8% larger than its actual size to allow for shrinkage during the firing and finishing of the brick.
To organize the creation of the mural, the artists separated it into 7 separate sections. The mural was then carved onto 6,400 green bricks, graciously provided by Cloud Ceramics. Each green brick weighed approximately 26 pounds. Over 90 thousand pounds of clay were used! On sections 4, 5, and 6, the artists carved away around 30 thousand (15 tons) of clay.
As each section was completed, each brick was marked per row and by column as they were removed. Cloud Ceramics was responsible for all the transportation, firing and storing of the bricks during the entire process.
When was the Whole Wall Mural installed?
Work on the Whole Wall Mural began in February 2007 and the last brick was carved on April 18, 2008. Here’s an interesting fact, the number “8” on the engine stands for 2008. The brick masons began working on the foundation of the wall on April 13, 2009 with the first sculpted brick being placed on April 14, 2009.
On Friday, June 5, 2009 the last sculpted brick was placed leaving just the finishing work to be completed over the rest of the summer.
How much is the Whole Wall Mural worth?
Currently, the mural is valued between $350,000 to $500,000. Without the generous donation of all the bricks, transportation, firing and storage by Cloud Ceramics, the Whole Wall Brick Mural Project would still be just a dream.
Want to learn more?
Stop inside Cloud County Tourism located in the Cloud County Museum Annex and the Cloud County Historical Society Museum to view pictures of the progression of the project.