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Giant mural projects to transform Stockbridge and Chilton

(Artist’s conception) A $29,950 grant to the Calumet County Historical Society from the Bright Idea Fund within the Community Foundation will help create a series of culturally rich, historically informed public murals in Chilton and Stockbridge that celebrate these communities’ diverse histories and interconnected narratives, while crafting related curriculum and visual arts opportunities for local youth.


A local artist and a team of assistants will create two gigantic downtown murals in Calumet County this summer, turning the communities of Chilton and Stockbridge into a showcase of beauty and history.

Each mural will feature real historical images and events that are an integral part of the rich culture of Chilton and Stockbridge.

Artist James Barany in front of his blank canvas in downtown Chilton

It’s all part of the Calumet County Historical Society’s mural initiative. The artist is Chilton native James Barany, who is a professor of art at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. He has recently begun the first mural in Chilton. His blank canvas is the side of a building at 40 W. Main Street. The Stockbridge mural project will begin at the end of July on a building at 101 S. Military Road.

“Large historical murals on old buildings are a perfect match,” says Barany. “People are going to have fun watching the murals develop. We invite everyone to come and see the process.”

Barany is a 1988 Chilton High School grad and recipient of the Mary Nohl Fellowship for Emerging Artists in Wisconsin. He has recently won several commissions for several public murals including significant works in De Pere and Waukesha.

Artist’s conception for the Stockbridge mural

His vision for the murals includes the images of prominent historical leaders, agriculture, fishing, and the unique landscape of these communities. You can read more about the elements of both of these designs here.

“The Calumet County Mural Initiative would not be possible without the generous support of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region’s Bright Idea Fund, the Chilton Area Community Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Calumet County Historical Society,” says Terry Friederichs, president of the Calumet County Historical Society.

Friederichs adds that the Calumet County Mural Project not only increases access and visibility to the arts and local history, it includes an important educational component in the Chilton and Stockbridge school districts that will help students understand how to foster art and history in their own lives.

Students prepare to create the Chilton mural

“Lessons from the artists who worked on the murals will include teaching students how to design and create murals of their own as they learn the impact of art on society,” Friederichs says.

Barany has a number of collaborators and helpers, including summer interns from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Maryland Institute College of Art, and University of Wisconsin-Stout.

“These are talented and hardworking students,” says Barany. “I think it’s really special that a Chilton Alumnus, Olivia Bonlander, will be working on the murals as well as the educational portion in the schools”.

To learn more, visit the Calumet County Historical Society’s website, and follow the project on its Facebook Page.


You can make the Bright Ideas burn even brighter by adding your support.

Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2018 – 2019!
See how our Bright Idea Fund impacted our community last year.

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