Teamwork brings Juneau public art piece together

The Associated PressJuly 25, 2013 

Jestoni Feliciano, right, and Adrianna Botelho work on a mural on the back wall of Taku Lanes bowling alley on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, in Juneau, Alaska.

MICHAEL PENN — AP Photo / The Juneau Empire

— Creative teamwork is behind a nearly finished piece of public art that turned a blank wall into a bold design of cubes and faces in downtown Juneau.

Several locals conceived and created the new mural on an exterior back wall of Taku Lanes, a Willoughby Avenue bowling alley.

The project is the idea of Agi Bellagh, who looked at the blank back wall and saw an opportunity for art, the Juneau Empire reported Thursday.

"It was an idea, and it wouldn't have grown into a finished project if people hadn't responded so positively," she said.

Also part of the team is educator and artist Heather Ridgway, who enlisted the help of fellow artist, 18-year-old Jestoni Feliciano, a recent Juneau Douglas High School graduate. Feliciano created the mural's design and is now painting it with the help of his friend, Adriana Botelho.

The building owners, Cindy and Barry Stuart, donated paint for the mural and so did Kathy Hill of local environmental group Turning the Tides.

Bellagh, a special needs teacher at Glacier Valley Elementary School, lives in a nearby apartment with her teenage sons. She set up a basketball hoop for her sons by the back of the bowling alley building, and imagined turning the wall behind the hoop into a mural.

Bellagh thought it would be fitting to have the mural done by a teen so she got out her son's 2013 Juneau Douglas High School yearbook and saw a drawing Feliciano had done for an art class.

"I was amazed at the quality of his work," Bellagh said.

She didn't know how to reach him, however. So she called her friend Ridgway, who teaches art at Thunder Mountain High School, has experience with creating murals and knows many artists. Ridgway knows Feliciano and called him.

He agreed to the project and Ridgway plotted out the design on the wall, using an overhead projector she taped to the top of her car. The design came from a drawing Feliciano had done in art class last year.

Feliciano said he likes the way the project is turning out.

"It made me more confident to do something else," he said. "We've got the technique down."

The Stuarts also are happy to be involved.

"We were a little nervous about it at first but then we got to thinking about it and thought, you know it's a great idea," Cindy Stuart said.

Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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