Mural Off the Beltline Pays Homage to Monona’s Historic Beauty

by Armond Garcia Harper, age 12 and Azario Garcia Harper, age 14

Simpson Street editor Taylor Kilgore was driving home from our South Towne office the other day when she noticed something beautiful. Before her eyes, a group of artists, including teenagers, were working on a colorful mural on the side of the Well No. 3 Building on 6500 Raywood Road in Monona.

When it was safe, Taylor pulled over to the side of the road, parked her car, and approached the artists. She spoke to one of the mural’s painters, Alicia Rheal, who told her more about the project. The mural was designed by Rhea Ewing and other contributors include Rheal, Emida Roller, Sonya Sankaran and Amy Zaremba, who are all members of Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA), a division of Dane Arts that aims to engage the public and young people through mural art.

At Taylor’s suggestion, we visited the finished mural, titled “Water, Land, and Sky,” with our editor Cynthia Avila and SSFP reporters Srijan Shresthra and Stephanie Perez a few days later. We were all surprised because each of us had driven by the mural a few times before noticing it.

The huge mural spans two sides of the building and proudly showcases the majestic beauty of Wisconsin’s nature. It features a bird in grasslands, fish under the sea, and a bright orange sun setting. We were impressed by its vibrant colors and attention to detail, like the fish’s skeletons. The mural also illustrates Harry Whitehorse, a member of the Ho-Chunk nation and World War II veteran, who lived in Monona. The artists behind the mural actually collaborated with Whitehorse’s family to complete the project.

We thought the mural had been painted right on the building’s wall, but we found out from its artists that it was actually painted on eight-by-eleven foot fabric panels. Members of the community, including students at MG21 Charter School and Winnequah Elementary School and local seniors from the Monona Senior Center all helped put it together. They glued the panels onto the building with acrylic gloss gel medium and finished it with polyurethane and anti-graffiti coatings.

Most of the community members who worked on the project only got to see certain pieces of the mural before it went up, but the results are magnificent.

It was exciting to find something so impressive in our own neighborhood. The mural reminds us that when seeking beauty in nature, you shouldn’t forget to check your own surroundings first.

[Source: Dane Arts Mural Arts]

This sounds like an awesome mural! I'll have to make sure to check it out soon. Great job writing the story, Armond and Azario! Really well done--keep it up. – MckennaUW Law School (2017-07-06 20:14)
Very cool! I'll have to check this out next time I drive past it! Good job boys. – Jackie Zuniga-PaizUW-Madison (2017-07-24 11:41)
This mural looks beautiful! You guys did a very nice job in showing the murals importance through the story! Keep up the good work! – SarahVerona Area High School (2017-08-04 13:59)
I've never seen this mural before, but from reading this, it sounds fascinating! Great work you guys. – AmieLafollette High School (2017-08-22 15:53)
Beautiful mural! Adds so much to this community. – MaureenMiddleton (2020-06-21 08:31)
Proud of my boys for writing a great story about an awesome mural! – MariaMadison (2021-07-06 18:17)