A touch-up on Third Street

City crew starts repair work on downtown mural

Photo by Mike Lamb Brock Klaith uses a bucket truck to reach a damaged part of the mural at Third and Main streets on Friday, and add replacement panels of cement board. The plan is to patch the missing parts of the mural later this spring or summer, said Jim Swartz.

MARSHALL — While it’s been a rough winter for people in the Marshall area, the weather has also been hard on one of Marshall’s downtown murals.

On Friday, city workers and Marshall resident Jim Swartz worked to repair part of the mural at Third and Main streets.

“The storms this winter got to the mural and peeled off some of the painted surface,” Swartz said.

Marshall city workers replaced portions of the cement board supporting the mural on Friday. Later this spring or summer, paint will be added to match the original design, he said.

“I’m really confident we can patch it,” Swartz said.

The Third Street mural, titled “At the Bend of the Redwood,” was created in 2011. The design represents elements of Marshall’s history like the prairie landscape, agriculture and industry. Instead of being painted directly on the wall, the mural was painted on parachute fabric, which was then laminated onto cement board, Swartz said.

“It’s pretty tough stuff,” he said.

Even so, the elements can still take their toll over the years.

“Most public art pieces require some upkeep,” Swartz said.

This isn’t the first time the Third Street mural has been updated. In 2017, Swartz helped work on a project to replace the panels with words that run along the upper part of the mural. The original panels had deteriorated, and were made with glass that was starting to fall off, he said. In replacing the panels, “We tried to respect the original artists’ intent for the work,” Swartz said.

For the new repairs, Swartz researched which kinds of screws could be used to anchor the new cement board without cracking it, and made custom washers from clear plastic. He has also found matching paint colors and supplies for the touch-up work. Exactly when the repairs are completed will depend a lot on what happens with planned city construction on Third Street this summer, he said.

Swartz said he and artist John Sterner will work on adding new parachute fabric in the damaged parts of the mural, and then coming back with new acrylic paint to blend into the existing design.

“It’s fortunate that the missing area is in kind of an abstract part” of the mural, he said. It will make it easier to match the new paint to the original artwork.

Swartz said it’s been great to work with the city of Marshall on the repair project.


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