Reaching for the stars, Salvage Depot mural marks DAC clients’ growth

The Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center puts a splash of color on one of its three local thrift stores.

Working on a new mural Thursday at the Salvage Depot are, from left, Hubbard County DAC clients and staff Mac Grewe, Tina Kendall, Vanessa Anderson, Austin Holford, art instructor Erin Nelson, Karen Ament, Shayna Braunschweig, Patrick Kimball and Emily Whitaker. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

Clients and staff with the Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center spent time this week painting a mural around the southeast corner of the DAC’s Salvage Depot thrift store.

Executive Director Laura Johnson credited guest artist Erin Nelson for her leadership on the project.

“She’s really expanded our art program by actually teaching about art,” said Johnson. “Her weekly or monthly teaching plans include things like … what Van Gogh’s style was, how he used colors.”

Besides appreciating the Dutch painter’s work, such as his sunflower paintings, Nelson led DAC clients in painting their own sunflowers.

“Those paintings are actually now hanging in St. Joseph’s Dental Clinic, which is really fun,” Johnson said.


She explained that the Salvage Depot mural project was planned to depict what the DAC tries to achieve, as well as to create an outdoor backdrop for a sculpture garden that another visiting artist made from pieces of scrap metal.

Regarding the mural’s imagery of hands reaching toward the stars, Johnson said, “Erin came up with this idea, and I’m really excited. It’s really going to be great when it’s done. Reaching for the stars is something that we’re trying to do every day, helping people be their best.”

Asked what meaning she had in mind for the mural, Nelson said, “I’d like people to interpret it themselves. But I was thinking of the inspiration of reaching for the stars – the clients’ goals and growth.”

“We’ve definitely seen growth with Erin involved in our art program, getting people involved that would never participate before,” said Johnson. “People are finding that they have an interest in art and really developing that. So, it’s been really exciting.”

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota, through a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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