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DAC employees create beauty together

Multi-panel murals painted by Developmental Achievement Center clients during June now adorn the exterior of the DAC building in Park Rapids.

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Artist Nate Luetgers, back row at center, and Developmental Achievement Center employees recently created this four-panel mural of flowers, plus another two-panel mural depicting sunset reflected on a lake. Both murals are mounted on the south side of the main DAC building in Park Rapids.

Colorful murals recently mounted on the side of the Developmental Achievement Center in Park Rapids were the work of the DAC’s client employees, with help from local artist Nate Luetgers.

The monthly art activities were made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a $18,136 grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

One of the murals, divided vertically into four panels, features a landscape of big, brilliantly colored flowers. The other, split horizontally in two, depicts the sunset over a lake reflected in its calm waters.

“It’s awesome that it’s on our building,” said DAC activity and exercise coordinator Karen Arment. “They can see it up there and know they had a part of doing it.”

The paintings are part of a year-long arts project running from March 2019 through February 2020, also including individual paintings coached by Luetgers, group and individual mosaic and ceramics projects guided by artist Marsha Wolff, dramatic presentations directed by Vision Theatre and a final, traveling art show after the new year.

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Luetgers and DAC clients worked on the murals throughout the month of June.

“We all worked on it,” said Luetgers, indicating the painting of flowers. “I would sketch in some, to show them how to do it, and then they sketched in a lot of them. I had them paint it. We wanted something colorful and different.”

The sunset mural required more blending of colors, he noted.

“I think it gives them a sense of pride in their building,” Luetgers said. “It was such a dull wall.”

Luetgers said he also felt good about “the camaraderie of them working together and seeing their personalities coming together.”

They started with primer, then a coat of white house paint, coloring in the flowers with more house paint. The finished painting was sealed with marine clear coat.

“It’s going to last a long time,” Luetgers said.

DAC clients work on each month’s focus project at a storefront on Main Ave. One of this year’s projects, a mosaic, is on display at the Bearly Used Thrift Store.

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“In September, we had Nate doing individual painting with clients,” said Gail Leverson, assistant director with the DAC. “In October, we have Marsha Wolff doing mosaics and individual pottery with them. In November, we’re going to have Vision Theatre again, doing a large, comprehensive drama production; we did one in April with them.”

Clients spent four days a week for a month rehearsing three plays, which they presented at Calvary Lutheran Church at the end of April.

The individual artwork will be showcased next January and February at Essentia Health, CHI St. Joseph’s Health and the local banks, Leverson said.

“We have some volunteers doing arts observing,” she said. “They’re observing how the clients and the staff and everybody is growing throughout, how they are communicating differently and growing through the project.”

Leverson said measurement and evaluation are important with the state arts grant “because they want to see that their art has really made a difference in somebody’s life.”

She added, “I think it’s important for us, too, because it teaches new ways to communicate. We think that communication is verbal, so much, for us. But if it doesn’t work out so well, you learn different ways” of communicating.

Related Topics: ART
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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