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Ottawa’s next public mural will be completed this summer, and it will be unlike any of the others, Brush With History Committee member Christy Myers told the Ottawa Noon Rotary on Wednesday. “This mural will not be a walk-by mural, which most murals are,” she said.
Instead, international artist John Pugh will produce a mural that will cause the viewer to stop in wonder. “This artist does the paintings that pop out of the wall,” Myers said. “He’s the first muralist to use the fourth-dimension.” Pugh’s style is “trompe l’oeil” — which is French for “deceive the eye.” The goal is to trick the viewer into believing what they see on the wall is real. “He spends a tremendous amount of time on details,” Myers said.

A native of Lake Forest, Pugh now lives in California. Pugh has completed more than 200 murals around the world. This will be his first mural in Illinois, Myers noted. For examples of Pugh’s murals visit  Located on the south wall of the Central Life building on Columbus Street, the mural occupy approximately 40 feet from the west edge of the wall, and run vertically between the second and fifth floors.

A Brush with History public art program was developed to help revitalize Ottawa’s downtown and create a cultural attraction for tourists and residents of the community. The program is sponsored by the Ottawa Visitors Center and overseen by a committee of citizens devoted to public arts. Made possible by a grant through the National Endowment for the Arts and vetted by the Chicago Art Institute, the Brush With History committee has been committed to quality and excellence since the program’s inception. Organized in 1993 the first mural became a reality in 2002. To date, eight murals have been completed with a new project scheduled for 2015.

Murals to date have focused on figures or events that shaped Ottawa’s history including local industry, prominent citizens or the creation of a major improvements in the area.


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Pamela Beckett
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