What’s Local: Adamany paints Woodstock’s history

Rockford muralist tapped for major project

By Jim Hagerty 
Contributor 

ROCKFORD/WOODSTOCK — The city of Woodstock is where muralist Mark Adamany has been spending his days.

It is where he’ll be for the rest of the summer. The northwest Chicago suburb is the site of the largest outdoor project of his nearly 30-year career, the Woodstock On Film and On The Stage Mural.

When finished, the Main Street Pedway painting will honor four of Woodstock’s lasting cultural legends: Chester Gould and Dick Tracy; Orson Welles; “Groundhog Day”; and the famed Woodstock Opera House.

The project began last August. A fellow artist who completed the initial design asked Adamany to paint it on a wall adjacent to the Classic Cinemas Woodstock Theatre.

“I got a call from Mark Costello who worked for Michael Stanard, owner and founder of One Zero Charlie, an ad agency,” Adamany said. “They recommended me from day one, which was cool.”

And Costello’s design is not just any rendering, nor the mural an ordinary public piece. There were licensing hurdles to clear, including one for the use of Bill Murray’s image from the 1993 film. Murray’s people talked to some other people, and so on. The Chicago native eventually approved. Co-star Andie MacDowell did not, so Costello and Adamany reworked the design, something Mark took in stride.

It is not his first crack at perfection. His local murals for Rock River Ford, Big Al’s, Beef-A-Roo, City of Belvidere and Peak Fitness, among others, show meticulous attention to detail. The giant American Flag and bald eagle on the Pepsi distribution center north of Madison, Wisconsin, overlooking I-94 is no different in that regard.

The African safari themed piece at Kalahari Waterpark Resort in Wisconsin Dells is one of his most memorable, while the 6,000-foot Egyptian science fiction painting inside Star Cinemas in Council Bluffs, Iowa, landed him in Signs of the Times magazine’s International Sign Design competition. The artist completed a 91-foot mural at Star Cinema in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, earlier this year.

“I am very proud and honored to be chosen to paint this behemoth project,” Adamany, 50, said of the 1,800 square-foot piece. “The locals are absolutely thrilled about what I am doing in the community. They’ve made me feel right at home.”

Adamany is accustomed to working alone, although on large jobs he sometimes uses interns for remediation, in-studio prep work and sketching. It helps him meet deadlines and exposes budding college and high school artists to commissioned settings. The Woodstock mural certainly qualifies as a sizable job, one with a looming fall deadline, so Adamany called for assistance. This time though, it was not the local arts departments Adamany beckoned for help. He brought along one of his own. Daughter Nadia Adamany is a recent Guilford High School graduate and already an accomplished artist, so she jumped at the chance.

“It’s a cool learning experience,” Nadia, 18, said. “To having just graduated from high school and about to start studying art in the fall to already get involved in a project like this is awesome.”

There’s something else.

“I also think it’s way cool to have a dad who is an artist and produces art of this scale.”

A Guilford and Rockford University graduate, Adamany was inducted into the RPS 205 Fine Arts Hall of Fame in April, alongside fellow Guilford grad, composer Jake Runestad; and the 1990 East High School production of Grease. Inductees will be honored Sept. 16 at the Raddison Hotel & Convention Center.

The Woodstock On Film and On The Stage Mural is expected to be finished in September. A bronze sculpture of Welles and one of a groundhog will be installed in a nearby sculpture garden. R.

jim.hagerty@rockrivertimes.com

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!