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Walldogs Leave Mark in Shipshewana

Small Indiana town bestowed with remarkable murals

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The 21st edition of the Walldogs group descended on Shipshewana, IN, June 19-21, to paint 16 murals in the Amish/Mennonite community of 650, which resides 40 miles north of Fort Wayne and a similar distance east of South Bend. Surrounding it is an Amish community of 20,000.

Organized by David and Suze Butler, who live an hour away in Syracuse, IN, the event included the original Walldog organizer, Nancy Bennett, and one of the original Letterheads, Noel Weber. Each project had two co-leaders. Approximately half were painted directly on brick walls (three in the same alley), and half were painted on aluminum panels and would be installed later.

The weather was unkind, with an approximate 50% chance of rain each day, which proved accurate. The largest mural, led by Gary Godby and Alan Johnson carried the dubious distinction of residing 30 ft. in the air. It “advertised” the Davis Hotel, and its projected image was rained off the first night. I worked with the smallest mural, and leader Bill Diaz was smart enough to have us move the aluminum panel inside a gazebo before we even started.

At the risk of slighting more people than I acknowledge, attendees were a virtual Who’s Who of handpainting sign people: Jay Allen, Gary Anderson, Sal Cabrera, Dave Correll, Noella Cotnam, Dennis Gerarthy, Phil Ghi, Bill Hueg, Jeff Lang, Signcraft publisher Tom McIltrot, Bill Riedel, Ray Renooy, American Sign Museum president Tod Swormstedt, Elaine Wallis, Doc Welty, etc. Yet newbies were welcomed; at the final dinner, approximately 20 people were acknowledged for having made their Walldog debut, including pictorialists Anat Ronen and Remy Chwae.

The hospitality of the Shipshewana Retail Merchants Assn. and the entire community was off the charts. All of the walls were primed and brush-ready a week ahead of time. The town, small as it is, boasts exceptional dimensional signage (and a disproportionate amount of goldleaf), thanks primarily to local signman Leon Yoder.

Next year’s meet will be held in Delavan, WI, a winter home for circus people, and organizer Brad “Bandit” Bandow has already christened the event as “The Greatest Banners on Earth.” He encourages first-timers to participate. Delavan’s city administrator, Denise Pieroni, attended Shipshewana, along with Bandow, who can be contacted at info@brushfire-signs.com.

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If you want to know more about the Walldog group and its history, go to a marvelous website, http://muralmuseum.com. And yes, there actually is The International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum (which opened in 2010), located at 217 North Mill St., Pontiac, IL 61764.

Enough talk, check out the murals!
 

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