Mural Sponsored by Law Firm Takes Shape 6/17/14 06/16/14 11:22:03 PM
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From left, Richard Harrison is joined by his daughter, Rebecca, and Susan Koenig on the crane platform in front of the nearly complete South 13th Street mural.
Painting on a Grand Scale
Mural Sponsored by Law Firm Takes Shape
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record
Attorneys Susan Koenig and Angela Dunne and their firm believe in the power of community. They backed that up recently by seeking input from the South 13th Street business district with an eye to commissioning a mural for the back of their law firm at 1266 South 13th Street.
“I love living and working in this neighborhood. It’s been a great home for our firm and for me. This is my way of saying thank you,” Koenig said. Koenig and her family have longtime roots in the neighborhood.
A Midsummer’s Mural, a father/daughter team of muralists, was selected. They in turn organized four neighborhood meetings to collect the memories, goals and dreams of the neighbors, all to be incorporated into the mural. Artist Richard Harrison said, “The journey is as important as the destination.”
Neighbors contributed reminiscences of childhood and cherished old businesses and the rich Czech heritage of the area. They also discussed changes they would like to see happen in the neighborhood, such as more start-up businesses (like the newly-opened Wallflower, a vintage clothing and retro store at 13th and William) and efforts to make the street more pedestrian-friendly.
The artists, Harrison and his daughter Rebecca Harrison, have been painting murals in Omaha for 14 years. You are probably familiar with their work, such as the one on the back of Supermercado Nuesto Familia at 29th and Leavenworth. They also recently painted the mural on the VFW building across the street from The Daily Record at 33rd and Leavenworth.
You can see more of their work on their blog at: a-midsummers-mural.blogspot.com, and on their website at amidsummersmural.com.
Richard Harrison said they have probably painted close to a thousand murals in Omaha, both indoors and outdoors, including hospitals, private homes, businesses, churches, banks, you name it, they applied paint to it.
Since receiving his master of fine arts in scene design at North Carolina School of the Arts in 1989, Richard Harrison has worked many years painting murals, designing scenery, and teaching high school and college students how to design and paint.
Besides Omaha, he has done mural work in Chicago, Minneapolis, South Carolina and Colorado. His work with the Thomas Melvin Painting Studio in Chicago included the AT&T corporate headquarters and work for the Chicago Art Institute.
His daughter Rebecca comes to the table with impressive credentials as well. Rebecca is an Omaha muralist who has been working with A Midsummer’s Mural for seven years. With this team of artists, she has worked on approximately one hundred projects in Omaha, ranging from residential murals to 250-foot-long public murals.
She attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha where she was president of the Organization for the Advancement of the Arts and graduated with a BA in art history in 2013.
In 2009, when Rebecca Harrison was a junior at Central High School, she was in the Artist-in-Residence Program with mentor Claudia Alvarez at the Ken Bellows Studio.
She has been active in the Omaha arts community from a young age, including being a JAMbassador at Joslyn Art Museum and interning at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts.
The mission of A Midsum-mer’s Mural, Richard said, is to “appreciate beauty, respond to beauty with quality art and craftsmanship, and bring wholeness and renewal to others through that response. We believe that quality art requires a spirit of openness and discovery and we believe that quality craftsmanship is having high character and high competence.”
During and after the neighborhood meetings, many sketches were drawn and a final design decided upon. The drawing was then projected onto the wall to serve as a map for the artwork. “It was so large, we had to back up all the way across the parking lot and up against the building behind our wall to project it large enough,” the affable artist said.
They rented a large elevated crane platform to reach the three stories, although it was not the biggest one they’ve used to date. Painting began on May 6th and continued through the month of May. Members of the tight-knit community were invited to come and help paint. They put the finishing touches on it May 30th, right on schedule.
“Our firm constantly looks for ways to contribute to our community. This was a meaningful way to honor the heritage and history of where we come each day to serve our clients,” Koenig, attorney, executive coach and founder of Koenig|Dunne Divorce Law.
“This mural celebrates all that I love – my neighborhood, our diversity, our future and Koenig|Dunne Divorce Law. I’m thrilled to see it all captured so beautifully by the collaboration of our neighborhood and the talent of the artists.”
A public celebration on Sunday, June 22, from 4 to 6 p.m., is planned to dedicate the mural. “There will be food, drinks and music for all to enjoy,” Koenig said. “We will also be giving the mural a name generated by the community. Everyone is welcome to attend.”