Main Street in Dryden received a touch of elegance this past month thanks to the artwork of Union Springs resident Kathy Connell.
Connell was the winner of the Art in Dryden’s mural contest, which gave the opportunity for one individual to design and paint wings of either a local bird or butterfly on the outside wall of the Dryden Hotel, similar to the ones created for The Global Angel Wing Project. (The Global Angel Wing Project, which began in 2012, is a collection of street art of angel wings painted by various artists.) Her design of a pair of butterfly wings were unveiled during Dryden Dairy Day on June 12.
“I was tickled pink. I was very, very happy,” Connell said regarding how she felt when she found out she won the contest. “It’s been a long time since I’ve done something like that, and it felt really good to know that I still have the ability to do this in a relatively short time frame.”
Currently a designer at MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora. Connell previously was a freelance artist. She used to paint names and logos on boat transoms, truck fleets – semi-trucks and small pickup trucks – Paint logos on storefronts and design signs for stores.
Her design features a pair of swallowtail butterfly wings with an assortment of flowers – sunflowers, roses and hyacinths – bordering them. She said the most difficult aspect of creating the piece was doing so in a different medium.
“The challenge for me was that I do almost everything on the computer now through MacKenzie-Childs,” she said. “I mean, there’s some hands-on work and hands-on painting. But most of that is [on the] computer, and I … do the work, I give it to somebody, I hand it to somebody who will paint it. It was nice to say, ‘Well, you know what? Can I still do this, and not have to graph it out or have an overhead projector or something to get the artwork to scale and stuff like that.’ It was a nice little challenge.”
Connell had the entire May to design and paint the mural and was given $3,000 to use towards supplies. The wings were made in three sections of eighth-of-an-inch-thick aluminum BeBond panels.
“Once we got the board, my sister helped me because we decided to cut out the panels of the wings, and I don’t know if that was something that anybody would do, but that was a weekend challenge,” she said. “Then we used a dremel to get all the burrs off of the edges of it, and then I had a paper stencil that I just transferred some of the major lines of the butterfly and started painting.”
Painting the wings took between 15 to 20 hours. Connell does not have a studio, so she had to paint the panels either on front porch or in dining room depending on the weather.
“I could lay it out on my deck and stand up four steps on my porch and kind of see what the mural was going to look like, but I never saw it in a vertical position altogether until the unveiling.”
She was not part of the display process, but she approved the work of the contest organizers, Mary Kirkwyland and Paula Wilson Parker.
“They did a nice job,” Connell said. “It looks relatively seamless.”
Overall, Connell said she was pleased with the entire experience.
“I was happy to be able to work on this mural because Dryden is a small … farming community and I came from a small farming community,” she said. “Very tiny. It’s nice to help beautify a place that takes such pride in the area and their farms.”