'Raise the Depot' fundraiser in full swing

Donations being sought to fund Mendota public art installation project


MENDOTA – The fundraising campaign for the “Raise the Depot” art installation project is in full swing in Mendota.

“Raise the Depot” is a public art installation for the Silo Pathways Countryside Public Art Tour. A three-dimensional, 127-foot wide by 50-feet tall mural depicting the historic Union Depot Train Station as it was in downtown Mendota in the 1900s is being proposed and commissioned by Gabe and Michelle Wade in appreciation of the station’s historic significance and stunning turn-of-the century architecture. The mural will be placed on the south side of the Triple Service Inc. building at the corner of Illinois Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Mendota.

Michelle Wade said the goal is to raise $143,000 needed to complete the entire project. She said the first hurdle to clear is securing $75,000 by the end of December. Currently, the campaign figure is at $28,120, and Wade said she has several commitments for large donations, so she is confident the $75,000 goal will be met by the end of the year.

“I’m very confident we’ll hit our mark based on conversations I’ve had with people and commitments that have been made,” said Wade. “Once we hit that $75,000 mark, we can start the process of painting. At that point, we know we will be on target for installation by August 2022.”

Wade said the fundraising campaign was kicked off around this year’s Sweet Corn Festival. She said it has been challenging to get the message to the masses and that the goal is lofty, but the campaign is picking up steam.

“These are goals and targets that we have set, and I’m certain this project will happen,” she said. “It’s easiest for the painting to be done over the winter and get it ready for installation next August. I’m anxious to get this done.”

The mural designer/artist is Ray Paseka and the creation of the art piece will be done right here in Mendota. It will be made up of pre-painted aluminum sheeting (4x10 foot each) mounted to a steel support grid. The structure will have a layered, dimensional effect with the station tower featuring a three-dimensional, train-shaped weather wave at its peak, rising above the main structure. Both the locomotive and train track will stand away from the support grid and windows within the structure will have translucent inlays to allow for diffused lighting. Construction methods will preserve the mural for decades.

Wade added that there will be a 10-foot space between the mural and the First State Bank parking lot so there will be room for people to admire the structure and take photographs if they wish.

“The cost of the project is more than just the mural, it’s the space and the lighting that we want to do that will make this area come alive,” Wade said. “There is a lot of other work than just the mural. The $143,000 is the whole package.”

NCI ARTworks developed Silo Pathways in 2017 as a curated outdoor art gallery through LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties. The Union Depot mural will be the second public art project in Mendota for the Silo Pathways Countryside Public Art Tour. “Mendota Gold” is located on the southern silo at the Northern Partners Cooperative.

NCI ARTworks plans to curate 15 works of art in the first phase of the Silo Pathways Countryside Public Art Tour. NCI ARTworks is a regional arts organization dedicated to supporting and expanding the arts community through artistic collaboration, educational outreach and art space development in the 2,000-square mile area of LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties, and five contiguous counties (approximately 150,000 residents). NCI ARTworks is a 501(c) (3) non-profit in Illinois and recognized by the IRS.

For more information, visit www.nciartworks.com

Anyone wishing to donate to the project may contact Gabe or Michelle Wade at 815-539-3828 or 815-343-3615. Donors may also contact Chris Coughlin, chair, Silo Pathways Legacy Project through NCI ARTworks, at 815-228-1253 or ccoughlin@nciartworks.com