Local artist decorating the Art Alley dumpster
LillieAnne Mecklenburg, graphic design student at Montana State University-Northern, is working on her contribution to Havre’s Art Alley, a sunflower mural on a large dumpster.
Mecklenburg’s work, now in its home stretch, can be seen in the alley between Third and Fourth Street on a large dumpster, one of many projects meant to bring the alley to life and attract people in downtown Le Havre.
In total, the mural took almost three months to reach its current state and Mecklenburg said she still had around 10 hours of work to complete the piece and two hours to finish.
She said she finished painting the last of the sunflowers last weekend, but still needed to darken their centers, finish the details on the petals and repaint a few areas.
She said the project had been delayed for some time due to a diagnosis of COVID-19, but she is back to work now.
Aside from wasted time, she said, the only difficulty created by the delay was large scratches on the paintwork that occurred while she was away.
This is hardly surprising, considering how often the dumpster is used, she said, but also something that does not excite her.
Mecklenburg said she was approached for the project during her senior year of high school – she graduated from Havre High School last spring – and was happy to contribute to the project.
She said she presented four or five possible designs for the mural to the Le Havre Art and Embellishment Committee, the organization primarily responsible for the art aisle, wishing to give them a choice of theme while maintaining a certain creative control.
“I didn’t want to just replicate someone else’s mural. I wanted it to be mine,” Mecklenburg said.
She said sunflowers weren’t her favorite photos among the photos she gave to the committee, but since the start of the project, she has grown fond of design more and more.
“I put a lot of time and effort into it, a lot of heart and soul.… As I worked on it, I fell in love with the concept,” she said.
Mecklenburg said she would like to contribute more to the lane, assuming the committee has something in its wheelhouse.
“I would love to contribute more to the arts alley, it just depends on what the committee has in mind.” she said. “… I imagine they have a lot of nice things in store for the alley.”
Debbie Vandeberg, member of the Art and Beautification Committee, said the aim of the Art Alley is to beautify the area and create a pleasant space to visit, which the Mecklenburg project will help do. .
“Our vision was to draw people downtown, create excitement and add color,” said Vandeberg.
She said the Art Alley was the brainchild of a group of Havreites who would eventually become the Art and Beautification Committee, which now works under Downtown Havre Matters, and they worked on a number of projects in the city.
She said the organization had worked on installing signs at each end of town along US Highway 2, installing bike racks, painting murals on Hill County Printing and now at the art alley.
She said that in April, they partnered up with the Hi-Line Art Council to create an alleyway event featuring live music and food, which was a big hit and brought a good visibility to the lane.
As for the future, Vandeberg said, they got permission from almost all of the businesses connected to the alleyway to paint their backdoors, and a few of those businesses have expressed interest in more art for their businesses at the future.
She said they were also trying to organize a fall rally in the alley, as well as a side event for the vacation walk this year.
Finally, said Vandeberg, they’re looking to create another art alley as well, but they’re still in the early stages of setting it up.
She said it was an exciting time for them and that she hopes for more success in the future.