CHADRON – Chadron State College students and alumni helped create a mural honoring Chadron’s volunteer firefighters. The mural, completed in July, is the sixth in the Chadron Area Chamber of Commerce’s Art Alley/Paint the Town project.
The mural depicts three firefighters marching south on Chadron’s Main Street with a fire hose toward a fire coming over C-Hill, reminiscent of a 2006 fire. It is approximately 20 feet high and 40 feet long on an interior wall in the Chadron Volunteer Fire Department’s Sixth Street training center.
Former Chadron Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jack Rhembrandt said the exterior of the building is metal and not suitable for a mural.
“Being inside, it stands as a constant reminder of why it’s important always be training,” Rhembrandt said.
The mural was the culmination of months of planning and refining rough drafts into a finished design.
Gabby Michna, Chadron Area Chamber Director, who leads the Art Alley/Paint the Town committee, initially contacted Art Professor and Art Guild adviser Mary Donahue to see how the Art Guild could help.
“I remembered that Art Guild members had helped with previous Art Alley projects and we are constantly looking for people to help us execute murals that encompass the vision of the building owners,” Michna said. “All supplies and materials were donated. It makes such a difference. Donations made it possible.”
Donahue said she gave Christopher Wright, president of the Art Guild, the information from Michna and he took it from there. Wright met with Rhembrandt about his vision for the mural and the pair continued to fine tune their ideas.
“The vision I was looking for was the sacrifice men and women make every day as first responders, not just local, but worldwide. On the mural itself, from the firefighter’s view, they are protecting the town, but the whole community has their backs. Having it completed gives me chills when I see it,” Rhembrandt said.
Chadron High School art teacher Travis Hencey, CSC alumni Tristan Stephenson and Whitney Tewahade, and Kayah Bynes and Wright, both students, volunteered with Michna during two work sessions May 29-31 and July 24-27. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the number of Art Guild members working on the mural was limited. Kaitlin Adams, an office assistant in the athletic department also helped with the project.
Stephenson previously painted a mural above a church on Main Street, while Bynes painted a butterfly on the west side of Western View Real Estate and a piano at Chadron’s Downtown Plaza.
Donahue, who helped with the mural on Bloom and the base painting for EJ’s BBQ, said Wright and Bynes did an excellent job of following through on the project, working six to eight hours a day.
“Kayah was a key player in Art Alley/Paint the Town from the beginning with Travis Hencey and Whitney Tewahade. She was working on the murals as a high school senior with Travis Hencey, who was her art teacher, and she has continued her involvement as a CSC art student and Art Guild member,” Donahue said.
On the last day of the project, Wright was working alone since others had conflicting time commitments. He said he was humbled by the thought of those who gave their time and energy to paint the mural.
“I had a lot of time to reflect on this project. When we added the highlights to the landscape and to the flag, everything started to come together. It became more clear to me why I was doing this. To give back to the community. I am grateful to have my design painted at such a size in a location where people who volunteer their time to keep others safe can know for years to come that they are appreciated and respected. I hope when people look at it they will be filled with thankfulness for our firefighters,” Wright said.
—Tena L. Cook, Marketing Coordinator