New downtown mural

International artist ARCY started work on Chanute’s new downtown mural Friday morning – and finished up Friday afternoon – after tracing the outline of the project Thursday night. He started around 7:30 am yesterday, took a couple of breaks (including one due to a brief rain shower), and the project was completed just after 4:30 pm. ARCY lives in Connecticut, but the 32 year-old has spent much of the last five years traveling the world painting. He has been creating 3-D art for about half his life, he said. In the final photo, ARCY poses with Main Street Director Ruthann Boatwright, who organized the project and said she is thrilled to finally have a fine arts project completed in downtown Chanute, especially with Artist Alley’s 50th anniversary this year.

GREG LOWER

The new downtown mural highlighting Chanute’s history will have an Easter egg in it.

The artist working Friday on the display said he puts this same surprise in all his murals. Chanute residents and visitors will have the challenge of finding it.

Ryan Christenson, who goes by the professional name ARCY, painted the mural Friday on the east side of Opie’s restaurant at Main and Highland. He expected it to take about eight hours, although an early-afternoon downpour interrupted the project, and sent the artist and spectators ducking for shelter.

He works in the medium of aerosol spray paint, which dries instantly, so he said he didn’t have to worry about runs in the rain.

“I just waited it out in the car,” ARCY said.

He said the mural is an awesome opportunity. He loves traveling and his career allows him to do that, which means finding hidden gems in small towns.

“Coming to a place like this, it’s special,” he said.

ARCY said small-town residents seem to connect with artwork more than people in large cities, where the rush of life passes the art.

“A lot of times, it’s overlooked,” he said, adding that he knows the mural will mean something to Chanute residents.

“They’re really going to cherish this,” he said.

The mural is a project of Main Street Chanute with partial funding from the city commission and director Ruthann Boatwright said she was super excited about it. Main Street is still looking to fund the remainder of the project. Boatwright said it will be a great addition to the community, and she appreciated building owner Nobby Davis for letting them use the wall.

It is also special because Artist Alley will be celebrating its 50th anniversary the last weekend in September.

ARCY said he advised Davis to apply a clear coat to the finished mural to protect against the elements and vandalism.

Boatwright saw the artist two years ago in Kansas City at a national Main Street conference. 

ARCY said he spends a lot of time researching the communities before he creates a design.

“I slow down for the design process,” he said, but he has it down to a science.

“These communities, I’m learning from them,” he said. “The actual painting is the easy part. I’m in the zone.”

He arrived in Chanute from Kentucky, where he did a project at a sports center. From Chanute, he goes to the Nebraska State Fair for 10 days and after that he travels to Pennsylvania.

“I hate turning down anything,” ARCY said.

ARCY has created hundreds of live murals and permanent large-scale works throughout North America, Australia and Europe. He has worked for the likes of The Smithsonian Institute, Major League Baseball, America’s National Parks Service, and is currently developing a collaborative body of work for The Walt Disney Company as a Disney Fine Artist. 

Because he is an artist for Disney, he will interrupt his time in Omaha to fly to Anaheim, Calif., for an event.

The Chanute mural incorporates the community’s heritage with world traveler Osa Johnson, the railroad and early days of aviation.

Because of his connection to Disney and to his little sons at home, ARCY said he has three circles for Mickey Mouse hidden in the mural.

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