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Wittenberg showing off its WOW factor

By Keith Barber

They are literally painting the town in Wittenberg.

Thanks to the non-profit group Walls of Wittenberg, the downtown offers a vibrant display of exciting building murals and events. Established in 2005, WOW was created by volunteers and town resident Lois Smith, who developed the idea after discovering a similar program in Florida.

A mural titled "The Nuts and Bolts of It ..." by Andy Goretski shows what life in Wittenberg looked like in 1910. (Photo courtesy of Walls of Wittenberg)

Many of Wittenberg’s buildings include murals depicting area history and other unique characteristics. Most buildings are identified for purpose, such as large postage stamps on the post office building, or saws and hammer images on a hardware store; another references the old Chicago Northwestern passenger and freight trains that once stopped in Wittenberg.

There are more than 17 buildings adorning murals. Designs were selected by WOW after searching Wisconsin artists interested in creating murals. The Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District also contributed to design work.

WOW oversees private contributions and fundraising events that help pay for the murals. And because of the efforts led by WOW, a downtown building has been donated to the organization as headquarters. It is an old drug store, now known as WOWSPACE. The building is used for small art shows, concerts and community events. One such event, titled “End Hibernation,” will be held Saturday. The fourth annual beer, wine and cheese gala will feature taxidermy mounts and wildlife paintings. The show runs through April.

The murals have stirred the creativity of townspeople, and it appears an art renaissance is under way. The murals have become a tourist attraction, and with the nearby Art Park featuring sculptures from many area artists, the community is focusing on art in every day life.

For more information about WOW, including a schedule of upcoming events and mural maps, visit the website or call (715) 253-3525.

Keith Barber is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. His blogs usually carry their own WOW factor.

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