A local business has pledged big money to help bring a mural to downtown Woodstock.

Classic Cinemas Woodstock Theatre will contribute $10,000 to the “Woodstock on Film and on the Stage” public art project, planned for a pedestrian walkway on Main Street adjacent to the movie theater.

“It’s a great opportunity to support Woodstock and tell the story, the history, because the theme of the mural is various segments of the arts and personalities [related to Woodstock],” said Willis Johnson, owner of Downers Grove-based Classic Cinemas. “… It’s a great opportunity to tell our story, as well.”

The mural, proposed by City Councilman RB Thompson and designed by Woodstock graphic designer Michael Stanard, will feature characters and entertainers from Woodstock’s past, including “Dick Tracy” creator Chester Gould and his famous private eye, Orson Welles, Woodstock Willie and “Groundhog Day,” and celebrities who’ve appeared at the Opera House. It will be painted on a wall north of the Square, next to the pedway that connects Main Street with a parking lot on Throop Street.

Johnson said he doesn’t expect the mural to bring in much additional business on its own, but “collectively, with the other amenities that are throughout the downtown, I think it’s just another reason to come to Woodstock.”

Stanard said other businesses and individuals are interested in donating, too.

“There’s a lot of groundswell. It’s taken on a life of its own. It’s gotten a lot bigger than I expected,” said Stanard, who is running for Woodstock City Council. He said organizers are approaching law firms, real estate agencies and other local businesses in hopes of drumming up more donations.

Rockford artist Mark Adamany has been tapped to paint the mural, which will stretch about 118 feet long and 15 feet tall at its highest. In addition to the mural, the pedway art project also will include an informational kiosk donated by Jonathon Sara, who owns Harvard’s ReSpace Design, and sculptures of a groundhog and Orson Welles. Woodstock sculptor Bobby Joe Scribner is donating the sculptures.

Woodstock’s Ahoj Productions, which produced “Chester Gould: An American Original,” is filming the process of bringing the mural to Woodstock in order to create an educational video about the project.

In all, organizers are hoping to collect $100,000 for the project, according to Terry Willcockson, the city of Woodstock’s grant writer. She said that will cover the cost of the mural, video and kiosk — estimated at about $45,000 — as well as fund the creation of an endowment to cover future maintenance work.

The city of Woodstock, which owns the pedway, is encouraging the project, but funding is being managed by a volunteer steering committee in partnership with the Friends of the Opera House. No public funding has been pledged for the project.

The committee is hoping for more sponsors. Tax-deductible contributions made by check or money order can be sent to Friends of the Opera House/Mural Fund, BMO Harris Bank, 225 W. Jackson St., Woodstock, IL 60098. Sponsors will be credited on printed materials and listed near the mural.

More information is available at www.woodstockmural.org.

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