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Paul Bunyan, Babe to adorn Akeley

Artist Kia Heide gets some pointers from professional artist Mary Therese Peterson, Bemidji, who is directing the Akeley banner project. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Jayden Vredenburg works on a depiction of Paul Bunyan fishing in the cattails. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise_

BY Sarah smith

Akeley streets will soon be festooned with whimsical banners depicting the legendary Paul Bunyan and his true-blue sidekick Babe in a modern day world.

A dozen youthful volunteers answered the call when Akeley artists received a Region 2 Arts Grant to make a series of vinyl banners.

The city, Chamber of Commerce, Akeley Lions and East Hubbard County Fire Department all chipped in to finish the projects.

Sunday afternoons, artists report to the Akeley Regional Community Center to brainstorm ideas for the artwork.

What would Paul and Babe be doing today in Akeley? Swimming, picnicing, fishing, the usual activities. How about Babe getting a massage?Paul giving Babe a massage.

His – or her – shoulders must need soothing after all that hard work. How about a band? Paul can really rock a guitar, sleeves cut from his flannel shirt.

Bemidji artist Mary Therese Peterson and Akeley artist Sandra Fynboh Andress are heading up the project, mentoring the young artists.

After brainstorming, thumbnail sketches are prepared to show what the artists envision.

Sketches are then put on clayboard panels. Then acrylic inks are applied.

The expensive paints and brushes used are creating quality work.

Peterson said layers upon layers of the inks can be applied, then scraped off or partially scraped off to create textures.

She walks from artist to artist to give pointers without interfering with their artistic freedom.

Proportions are important when you’re dealing with a giant and his pet ox.

Peterson helps the artists scale their drawings so the giant doesn’t turn out looking like a dwarf.

Lots of red and blue ink is used, for the plaid in Paul’s shirt to the blue in Babe’s fur coat.

When the artwork is finished, a high resolution photo will be taken, then transferred onto the vinyl.

Andress said that way, if the vinyl wears out, the original artwork is still there and a new banner can be made.

Music plays in the art room; pizza feeds the hungry artists and the creativity flows. And there is inspiration in the food.

One panel portrays Babe eating a stack of pancakes.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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