by Dennis Dalman
On the morning of Aug. 31, the day dawned with such beauty that Maureen Putnam of Sartell decided to take time to smell the roses, so to speak.
She gathered together a small group of art enthusiasts to share their talents – and plenty of joy – by creating a huge chalk mural. It was also a way to thumb their noses at all the stresses and worries raised by that nasty villain, COVID-19, and to have a happy blast doing something fun for the sheer joy of it.
First, the group checked with Sartell City Hall to see if they would be allowed to draw their mural on the parking lot of the Bernick’s Arena. Permission was granted.
“We gathered in the parking lot where a wonderful titled slab of concrete awaited our artistic vision,” Putnam said.
They decided to create a Minnesota scene. It was a veritable blooming scene of all things Minnesotan: kids jumping off a dock, loons, deer, bears, fish, flowers, butterflies, trees – all surrounding by a swirling swoon of hearts. It took them almost four hours to create their pastoral masterpiece.
“Even as we were working, we were excited by the questions and smiles from passersby,” Putnam said. “We chatted and said, ‘It’s working. It’s helping people to take a moment to pause and smile.’”
The artists included Putnam and daughter Sophie Speckard; Shania Hirdler; Chris Klimpel; Sophie Lathe; Serein Tomlinson and her two little boys, Milo and Bentley; and Jenifer Rindels and daughter Ashlyn.
“It was a fun day of drawing, coloring, eating snacks and visiting that included friends from age 4 to 54,” Putnam noted.
She recommended others give outdoor chalk-painting a try.
“We used KOSS-brand soft pastel chalks, a set of 48 colors,” she said. “Those soft chalks are fun because they can be mixed and smeared with an art sponge to help fill up the spaces with color.”
After their huge art work was completed, Putnam and her fellow artists left hoping that a drenching rain or two would not erase all of their hard work and fun.
“As long as the weather holds up, our mural can give others a little bit of joy,” said Putnam. “It’s just a quick glimpse to remind us all to be kids, to continue to enjoy the blessings of nature and to be mindful that we are connected. Perhaps it could also inspire others to take a break from the worries of life and do some coloring. It is definitely therapeutic.”
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.