By: Laura Schulte with the Wausau Daily Herald
Jessica Kopecky doesn't consider herself an artist. She's had no formal training in painting.
But that hasn't stopped her from undertaking a huge artistic feat: painting a mural over 14 feet tall that will soon welcome visitors to Wausau. The mural is located on the side of the Needle Workshop, 312 S. First Ave., on the building's south side, making it clearly visible to Stewart Avenue traffic in and out of downtown Wausau.
For the last two weeks, Kopecky, 34, has been hard at work whenever she gets the time, scaling the scaffolding with paint in hand. When the mural is finished, it will feature a postcard design with the words "Welcome to Wausau" in the middle of the wall, surrounded by depictions of spring, summer, winter and fall.
The mural was designed by Kopecky, who works as a graphic designer. All of the drawings were done by hand, then digitized, which helped her keep the proportions of the drawing as she increased the size. The drawing, she said, was created with the city in mind.
"It's made for this community specifically," she said.
Jessica Kopecky paints the petals of a flower for her mural on Wausau's near west side. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Once it's finished, Kopecky hopes her mural will become a spot where residents and visitors will snap photos.
"You're supposed to be able to take a picture in front of it, and then digitally send a postcard," she said.
Kopecky pitched the idea to the Wausau River District, a nonprofit downtown advocacy organization, which then helped her find a location for her art, as well as funding to buy paint and other supplies she needed. She said that though the task is large and has put her a little out of her comfort zone, the community has been supportive of her which has helped to fuel her work. People even stop by with words of encouragement.
"People are excited to see a mural going up," she said.
Jessica Kopecky gently peels paper off of the outline of the "Welcome to Wausau" postcard, which she will use to guide her painting. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
The postcard won't be the only mural going up in Wausau this fall. During Wausau's Artrageous Weekend, a festival celebrating art and artists in the area that draws thousands of visitors annually, murals will be painted all along the northern portion of Third Street as a part of a competition called Art Lives Here, hosted by the Wausau River District. The murals will be painted on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the community will have the chance to donate for a chance to vote for the best mural. The winning artist will have the chance to take home up to $750.
Kopecky's mural isn't a part of the Art Lives Here event, but she's hoping her art will help to inspire others.
Jessica Kopecky works on a mural on the side of the Needle Workshop on Wausau's near west side. (Photo: Laura Schulte/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)
Kopecky believes the number of murals going up won't just make Wausau a brighter place to live, but also will showcase just how much artistic talent there is within the city.
"This will reinforce us as an artistic community," she said.
It will depend a bit on the weather, but Kopecky said she hopes the Wausau postcard will be finished in time for the events of Artrageous Weekend.