ALTOONA, Wisconsin (WEAU) – The owner of Passion Board Shop is working on a new mural under a bridge in Altoona.
Chris Johnson was approached with the idea of Visit Eau Claire and received approval from the City of Altoona.
“This project was originally brought to me…was by Visit Eau Claire. It wasn’t originally from the town of Altoona. It was from Visit Eau Claire and all the people who organized a lot of stuff like that,” Johnson said. “When the city said I could paint whatever I wanted, they just liked the way my work looked. And they thought I’d be a good fit down here. I agree.”
Johnson is working on a mural centered around a crab-like creature.
“They want to make this space a bright, kid-friendly fantasy space,” Johnson said.
The business owner is a working father, has a podcast and has been a painter for a number of years.
“Some people are late bloomers, I didn’t start painting until I was 28,” Johnson said.
When he was told he would be working on the wall under the bridge that crosses the Prairie River, he had to take a few days to think about his vision.
“I took two days off from work I own at the Passion Board shop downtown,” Johnson said. “So I had an employee at my shop for a few days and I went camping so I could be in nature and focus on the art. Then came as a concept that I ended up using. Painted the whole thing over a few days in the woods.”
Johnson has a style for his artwork.
“All my art is that kind of look. It’s like these silly monsters and stuff,” Johnson said. “And so I started with him on my iPad and then started drawing around him. And I’ve come up with some other really cool sea creatures that will do this whole scene when I’m done.”
Johnson said he was very impressed with the fact that he was asked to do the mural. He admires the art scene in the Chippewa Valley.
“I really think a lot of people really appreciate that. But I think there are a lot of people who still don’t realize how special this is. how much we have It’s not normal to have art like this under a bridge in a city this size.”
For now, he’s focused on completing the crab-like creature he named “Frank” after his great-grandfather, leaving the rest of the mural for spring.
“That’s all I had time for right now before it gets cold.”
Until then, he hopes for the help of 100 people, mostly children.
“With color, it’s a little more forgiving that you can go through and fix things. Partly because I’m not perfect either,” Johnson said. “But it’s going to be fun to have all the kids and stuff here because they can do it and I can kind of guide them and help them. You know… no one gets hurt if someone leaves the lines.”
The thought of mistakes that could happen with the help of children does not worry or shy Johnson.
“I know I’m going to go back and fix some things, but that’s not really the point. It’s just about having a bunch of people, making memories and just having a good time with it,” Johnson said.
He is currently working on the mural himself.
“It’s a big project, you know…and I’m doing it…there’s a little bit that can be done with a roller, but for the most part I do it all with a brush like this,” Johnson said. “But the city lets me do it on my own schedule. I don’t need to feel rushed while I’m working on it.”
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