Bringing art to the city with new SIU Mural

October 28, 2022

Downtown Carbondale recently got a new art piece to brighten up the town with the SIU Saluki Mural near Mill Street on the old Cricket Wireless building.

Photography professor Antonio Martinez is leading the project and working on it with students in an independent study.

“We have some arts education volunteers working, as well as John A Logan,” Martinez said. 

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“This is the second class where I’ve offered, like, a street art mural class. It’s not, like, officially on the books.”

The final mural went through many revisions to make sure it represented the school correctly without it being seen as an advertisement, Martinez said

“It was just the Saluki head and said, like, ‘Go Dawgs,’ but they went through a lot of revisions,” Martinez said. “I needed to, like, be omitted and, like, find other solutions to kind of push it more to the art realm.”

Martinez said he wanted to be sure the mural represented all parts of SIU and not focused on what seems most popular at the school, like sports.

“Just wanted to make sure that the scholarly and creative pursuits that SIU is also represented, writing this mural, not purely athletics,” Martinez said. “I mean, there’s a lot of student-athletes on campus and they’re students before athletes.”

The artists did their best by putting symbols for various schools in the mural such as the arts, sciences, theater, athletics and more, Martinez said.

He said other art students are already wondering if he’ll continue with this class next semester.

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“A lot of it depends on funding and also [on] business owners wanting to give up some wall space,” Martinez said. “Artspace 304, they asked if I was interested, they said there’s some funding that could help.”

Martinez has more ideas he wishes to pursue for murals. He’s currently working with a former student, Joey Burrows, on some concept art.

“I just threw the concept of a possum playing drums with a mohawk,” Martinez said. “Once that’s refined, we may try to shop it around and try to get some investors to and also building owners to want to put that one up somewhere.”

He might offer the class again in the spring semester if enough people show interest in it, Martinez said.

“That kind of gives me an idea if I should devote the energy and time into trying to make it happen,” Martinez said. “So I know there’s some local people who could potentially fund one but I don’t want to pursue it if it’s just gonna be me.”

Graduate student Kayleigh Doyle is the only actual student who is a part of his independent study and not volunteering.

So last semester, me and a bunch of other grad students took a mural class with Antonio and we completed a mural in Marion and I knew he was offering it again,” Doyle said. “So I decided to join him.”

Doyle said Martinez did most of the work over the summer and she came in around when the rough design of the Mural was made.

“It was a little bit different than the first one we did because we had full creative freedom with the first one and, this one, it was for the school,” Doyle said. “We narrowed it, we pulled it back down, and then it was just the big Saluki logo, but that was so much open space. So we wanted to include all of the like areas or as many as we could for the university.”

After getting the final design they prime the walls and stopped traffic to project the design and trace it, Doyle said.

“So they cut off one lane of traffic, and they put Antonio up pretty much up in a bucket truck with his computer and his projector,” Doyle said. “Then we just traced the designs with charcoal.”

Doyle said they put several coats of paint to get the SIU maroon color and once they did that they went back in with their white paint to make sure everything looked good.

“They’re going to be putting an anti-graffiti coat on it soon,” Doyle said. “So It’s kind of like a clear coat that you’d use on nail polish, but it means that you can wash off anything. So if someone were to try to tag it, it won’t stick and you can usually power wash it off just a little bit and it won’t ruin the things underneath.”

She decided to do the class to get the chance to diversify her resume. Doyle said she’s also doing another mural in the hallway of the Life Science building.

“A lot of mural things have spawned from this. The project I’m currently doing spawned from this too,” Doyle said. “That all came from Antonio starting all these mural projects.”

Cole Schnaudigel is a senior in art ed education and volunteered to help when Martinez came to one of his classes.

“I was really interested in it because I feel like that’s something I want to do in the future,” Schnaudigel said. “Being an art educator, a lot of times we’re asked to do murals and stuff like that in school. So I wanted to get the practice, the understanding of, like, how to do it, and, like, all that goes into it.”

Schnaudigel said he was helping out for two weekends and Martinez would usually be working on it from nine to five.

“The thing with the mural was, like, Martinez had to bounce around a lot, which he explained to us, and that sounded really challenging,” Schnaudigel said. “He had to come up with a design and get approval from the city and then get approval from the owner of the building and then make sure, like, the school likes it too.”

With this not being the usual artwork he does, it was a new experience for Schnaudigel, he said.

“Constant distractions. A lot of people honking loud cars, a lot of people need new exhaust,” Schnaudigel said. “Then painting on bricks was new for me. I’ve never painted on bricks, you know, not painting on a smooth surface; so adapting to that.”

Schnaudigel said the mural was the biggest canvas he’s ever worked on.

“Learning about all the different things that went into it, and like how that was projected on there,” Schnaudigel said. “I think that’s just all a learning experience and will help me in the future.”

All of Anotonio Martinez’s mural artwork can be seen on his instagram.

 

Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewis. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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