Lincoln Courier Newspaper July 26, 2004




Californian FranCisco Vargas dabs details of the Alley-Bi's Falstaff ad Friday afternoon as Dale Manor of Menomenie, Wis., brings up another color of paint. At right, Scot Telfer of Scotland traces in the Coke sign along Kickapoo Street, with Matthew Rolli of Hudson, Wis., bracing the ladder as he works near the edge of the roof.


Wall Dogs leave surprise mural


A mural showcasing classic symbols of Lincoln's history was added to the back wall of Lincoln Cinemas over the weekend as a last-minute extension of the Lincoln Wall Dogs Project, in which an international sign painting organization hand-painted signs on 11 downtown walls over four days.

"They went above and beyond any expectations I had," said project coordinator Adam May of Mount Pulaski, who serves on the Main Street Lincoln design committee and will coordinate the next Lincoln Wall Dogs Project.

Main Street was the primary sponsor of the project.

About 15 artists worked on the movie theater project Friday and Saturday, with Letterhead Dave Parr of Peoria, finishing up the job when the sign painters, who call themselves "Letterheads," left town Sunday morning.

The mural was designed by Letterhead "chief brain wizard," Mike Meyer, 43, of Mazeppa, Minn., and May, who runs a local photography studio.

Although they had decided on the symbols and a basic design, May said each artist created his or her interpretation of the images.

The end product features a large replica of the Abe Lincoln $5 bill portrait, hot air balloons, a red dog to represent the Dog Daze of Summer festival, corn, a Conestoga wagon to commemorate early settlers, watermelons, the Logan County Courthouse and a few split rails, May said.

The new mural is 10 feet by 25 feet and a work-in-progress said May, who enjoyed the project so much that he and his wife Sarah will attend the next national Letterheads meet in July 2005 in Mazeppa, Minn.

They will attend the Mazeppa meet for business and pleasure, since May plans to bring a second Lincoln Wall Dogs Project to town in two or three years. He said attending the national meet will give him a chance to observe what a large-scale meet is like, since about 800 people will attend.

May said he wants the next Lincoln Wall Dogs Project to be a large-scale Letterheads meet, with about 400 people attending, and with artists of several trades, such as glass, gold leaf and woodworking, in addition to sign painters.

"Look what they did, look what 30 people did in four days," said May of the just completed Lincoln project.

He estimates the Letterheads did about $100,000-$150,000 of work on the 11 projects, all without charge.

"I don't think people understand, (the Letterheads) shut down their businesses for the weekend and used their own paint to do this," said May of the personal dedication of the not-for-profit organization's members. Paint was provided to them for each project, but they used their own supplies as well.

Jan Dickerson of Lincoln is pleased with the commemorative mural on the north wall of The Fitness Balance at 125 N. Sangamon St., which she and husband Bill Dickerson own.

"It just pops your eyes out," she said of the mural. "I appreciated their pride in their craft."

The mural is 30 feet by 12 feet, and commemorates Lincoln's extensive railroad history. The mural will be one of the first things future tourists will see on arriving in Lincoln via Amtrak.

The Dickersons liked the mural so much that they bought the miniature panel of the same image, one of four miniature panels of the signs auctioned off by Main Street Lincoln. All 15 artists who worked on it signed the back of the panel, as well.

The money from the auction sales was donated to the Letterheads as contribution towards their sign museum effort.

According to May, the panels sold for $85 to $150 each.

"We're so deeply indebted to these great artists," Dickerson said, citing the historical significance of Lincoln Wall Dog Project signs. "Oldsters can reminisce and youngsters can learn."



Here is a copy of what was sent to him by Mike Meyer. FranCisco wanted to give the artist homage so he contacted the web site master John Smallshaw, Unfortunately the artist remains unknown. His instructions was to add Alley-Bi Saloon in the shield, and if possible change some of the colors. FranCisco made the pattern in Fresno and took it with him on his flight. He didn't have time to paint a mock up so colors where chosen on the spot. This 8'x12' sign was painted with the assistance of his two torpedoes...Jeff Ogden of Gainsville, FL, Dale Manor of Menomonie, WI. whom he met at the project site. Both these guys are high caliber sign artists. They made the project smooth coasting, as you see to your left "duct tape" holding the hang rails for the scaffolding, we did what we had to do and nobody complained about the circumstances. True Wall Dogs!


                             Photo courtesy by Dave Parr, The motley project 6 crew, caught admiring their work.

  Also two others great sign artists Carole Bersin of Minneapolis, MN and  Dave Parr of Peoria, IL. stopped by and gave us a huge hand in the detailed graphic.

                Dave Parr is the cool guy in blue.


                Capt. Mike Meyer happen to pass by so we got him in the picture, Carol is the lady next to me, along with Dale and Jeff.




Also included in this project are a few other murals that was painted that same week by other sign artists.




Painted by Andy and Lorie Goretsci of Tomahawk, Wis. There were many others who assisted on this project, sorry at this time I don't have the size or all the names.






Lincoln Courier Newspaper says Project leader Mathew Rolli, left, and Scotman Scott Telfer trace letters atop The Courier building. The Letterheads say their jobs as sign painters tend to be quite solitary, so the chance to meet and paint in teams makes the work even more enjoyable.  photo by Ann Klosse








                 Project leader on the Coca Cola sign was Scott Telfer, from Scotland-UK above is a shot of the Die Hard burning the midnight oil, T. J. Salsman/The State Journal Register - Springfield, IL photographer captured this shot,



   Project leader on the Cities Service was Stewart McLaren, also from Scotland-UK


PPhotos by Ann Klose, Lincoln Courier

Joe Pelc, of Lincoln took a lift up the wall at McEntires Appliances to add his touch to the "remake of a sign he originally painted 63 years ago." Joe, a local retired sign painter, but still can still handle that brush. With him is Mike Meyer.




                                    Project leader Michael Clark of Aledo, Il




                     Project leader, Brian O'Prey of Ireland-UK




Project leader, Cam Bortz, of Connecticut



Project Leader 





                      This one was a surprise mural, done in a day and a half



                                 The troops who painted the town in Lincoln, IL