The beautification of downtown Caledonia continues. Volunteers, organizations, committees, and the city are working together to develop a strong sense of place that is unique and different from other communities in the area. The new pocket park in downtown Caledonia features the area’s first 3-D mural. The pocket park is located on South Kingston Street, one block from the only stop lights in town. The mural is a feature that will set the town apart from other communities and will draw residents and visitors to downtown.
During the summer of 2020, Caledonia’s active eight-member City of Caledonia StreetScapes/Caledonia Green committee brainstormed ways to beautify Caledonia. As a result, the idea to commission artist Sarah Pederson to paint a 3-D mural was conceived.
The committee was faced with finding the perfect location for the mural. After conversations with city staff and officials, it was decided to turn a vacant lot in downtown Caledonia into a pocket park with the 8’ x 48’ mural being the highlight of the park.
The committee commissioned Sarah Pederson, a graduate of Westby High School, Westby, Wis., who has painted many murals in the Westby area. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Pederson is the owner of Lucid Painting and has been painting professionally for 10 years now.
Visit Pederson’s website, lucidpainting.com, for a photo gallery of murals she has painted.
The committee contacted Pederson in August 2020, and one year later, after many conversations with the committee, she started painting. It took Pederson only one month to complete the mural.
“The committee wanted a wooded scene, a creek, a path with a lantern, all kinds of flowers, specific animals, and trompe l’oeil,” shared Pederson.
Trompe l’oeil means “fool your eye” a style of painting that is so realistic that it appears to be three-dimensional. The border of stone around the image is painted to match the shape and the grout in the town’s historical buildings. The bottom of the mural is painted to match the wood chips, which will gray over time and fill in, so it will feel like you are walking right into the mural.
The mural is not only 3-D, it is also educational and interactive.
Can you find all 36woodland creatures, including the black-capped chickadee, pileated woodpecker, coyote, brown trout, bald eagle, squirrel, two rabbits, three monarch butterflies, nine wild turkeys, white-breasted nuthatch, white-tailed deer, ruby-throated hummingbird, northern cardinal, raccoon, great horned owl, Karner blue butterfly, and nine ladybugs in the mural?
What about the 18 flowers and mushrooms in the mural: Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), common blue violet (Viola sororia), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), orange mycena (Mycena leaiana) mushroom, showy lady’s slipper (Cypripedium reginae), state flower, Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea), spreading Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), true morels (Morchella) state mushroom, wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), scarlet beebalm (Monarda didyma), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm), and butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)?
Heberlin emphasized that “Pederson was amazing to work with and proved to us that she was definitely the right artist for our project! Her work is out-of-this-world!”
The 3-D mural cost the committee around $9,000. Grants funded most of the project, with the balance covered by donations and the group’s fundraising efforts. Heberlin stressed, “We could not have completed this amazing project without the partnership from many other organizations. The City of Caledonia helped us tremendously with the prep work for the mural (and park) along with providing the location to display it.”
The park is a beautiful addition to the city’s downtown area. The Caledonia Lions donated an ADA-accessible picnic table for the park; the Houston County Master Gardeners provided beautiful plantings and the labor to complete the project. The Community Spirit group donated a solar spotlight for the mural. The Street Scapes/Caledonia Green committee donated a solar street-type lantern for the park, which matches the lanterns painted along the walking path within the mural. The Arlin Falck Foundation, Southern Minnesota Investment Foundation, and the Minnesota Department of Health provided funds to make the project come to life.
The city celebrated the park and mural on Saturday, October 16, with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Mayor DeWayne (Tank) Schroeder said, “It is a community effort and a lot of work to bring it together. The committee did a fine job putting it all together.” After the cutting of the ribbon the mayor thanked the committee for all their hard work and thanked Pederson for the outstanding job she did for the city, emphasizing it is a terrific addition to Caledonia.