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Beloved Gawboy Mural re-created for posterity, now on display at Vermilion

Ely Echo - Staff Photo - Create Article

The 1960 mural painted on the walls of the Ely Community Center has been re-created through the efforts of photographer Curt Laine and original artist Carl Gawboy.

Gawboy painted the mural on the walls of the Community Center Chamber of Commerce anteroom.

It is a spectacular woodland scene with lake, islands, animals, and endless blue sky. It provides a complete 360 view with the paintings on the four walls connecting seamlessly to form a continuous panorama.    

Unfortunately, over time, the mural had suffered damage in the community center from both light and moisture.

In 2020 with the fate of the Community Center uncertain, the city of Ely, Heritage Preservation Commission, approached Curt Laine, a professional photographer and educator, and Carl Gawboy, the original artist, with the idea of recreating the mural through painting, photography and digital editing.

The challenges were many.  The mural had been damaged and was faded.  It was interrupted by the doors and windows from the room.

Laine photographed the mural in the ‘as-is’ condition.  He then was able to provide Gawboy with the life size images that allowed Gawboy to fill-in the blank areas of the mural with new acrylic sections.

Laine re-photographed the new paintings and manipulated the images to blend seamlessly, bringing the original brightness back to the work.

The complete image is now saved digitally for posterity.  A print of it is currently hanging at the Minnesota North College campus in the Quiet Study Room (in the classroom building). A reception and ribbon cutting will be held on Thursday, May 4 at 5  p.m. at the college. All are welcome.

Carl Gawboy is a life-long artist, who has focused much of his creative talent on scenes from the northern Minnesota area, the city of Ely, and the local Indian community.  Gawboy is also an educator and consultant.

Laine is a prolific photographer who has worked commercially creating images that ranged from Lockheed’s C130 aircraft to medical implants.  He has expertise in camera, computer hardware and software tools. Laine has also taught courses at St. Cloud State University and provided consulting services.  He has most recently, moved his business to Ely where he operates in semi-retirement mode.

The Ely Heritage Preservation Commission is an arm of the Ely City government, with a mission to safeguard Ely’s heritage by promotion of preservation and the continued use of historic structures and artifacts.

Special thanks go to the Ely Folk School for providing fiscal sponsorship, to the Donald G. Gardner Humanities Trust for providing the funding and to the Minnesota North College for their support.

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