By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Residents and visitors alike will soon get to see more public art in downtown Quincy.
The Historic Quincy Business District is launching a mural program for local artists, with the first work, "Focus," being painted on a side of the building at 115 N. Fourth.
The abstract mural will be painted by local artist Jennifer Bock-Nelson. It comes from her "Drive" series, which she developed while commuting regularly to Culver-Stockton College.
"There's something about the transitional space of being in a car and the beautiful things that happen with the natural light as it changes and the artificial lights coming from streetlights or cars or signs," Bock-Nelson said.
The Quincy City Council approved a variance to allow the mural on the building at its March 25 meeting.
A committee consisting of representatives of HQBD, the Midsummer Arts Faire, the Quincy Art Center and other arts organizations was created to select properties where murals could go and also select pieces.
Austin Properties, which owns the building at 115 N. Fourth, was consulted on the mural. Bock-Nelson also worked with the committee to help it chose the artwork that would best suit the building.
Funding for the murals is coming from private dollars. Work on Bock-Nelson's piece is expected to start Saturday, April 13, and take a month to complete.
"I've got some former students and colleagues at the Art Center that will be helping," Bock-Nelson said. "So it's definitely a collaborative effort, which I am thankful, because it's a 99-foot-by-55-foot building. That's a big hunk of wall."
Bock-Nelson recently finished murals at the Quincy Public Library, which she said was a good way for her to move up to the larger project downtown.
"It's definitely out in the public where people are seeing it, and this is the next step," she said. "Everybody sees it as they drive by. It's a huge honor for them to select my work and to have this opportunity."
Bock-Nelson currently teaches at the Quincy Art Center and John Wood Community College, and will start teaching at Quincy University this fall.
Travis Brown, executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District, said he hopes that more murals will be added tgo the downtown landscape.
"We're really hoping that this could be a one-mural-a-year program," Brown said.
Brown said the city has great art resources, including the Quincy Park Band, the Muddy River Opera Company, the Quincy Art Center and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, but he doesn't believe the city does the best job of showing visitors.
"Tourists coming through Quincy or even some of our citizens may not realize the level of the arts in this community," he said. "We wanted to do some things to draw attention to that."