Murals add color to library
Sandra Quintus, Garner, with a mural she painted at the Clear Lake Public Library. JEFF HEINZ/The Globe Gazette msc

CLEAR LAKE — If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many books would be filled by the murals decorating the walls of the Clear Lake Public Library?

The six murals were painted by Garner’s Sandra Quintus. The paintings were commissioned in the name of Susan Connell-Magee, a Clear Lake native who died in May 2003 of breast cancer.

The murals celebrate the natural beauty of Clear Lake, including Lone Tree Point, City Beach, the Clear Lake Sea Wall, Ventura Marsh and a scene inspired by the work of the famous Iowa painter Grant Wood.

The Grant Wood-inspired piece was painted on canvas and measures seven feet by 19 feet. It was hung in February 2007 on the rear wall of the former Masonic Temple wing of the library.

Quintus said the piece was inspired by Wood’s Stone City mural painted in 1930.

“If you take a look at that, you’ll see some of the same elements in that painting,” Quintus said.

The inspiration for the Clear Lake mural came from the fields near Opportunity Village and the Fertile Blacktop.

“The beans were this beautiful golden color,” Quintus said.

The first mural to be finished was a cloud-filled blue sky with several birds on the wing painted in the dome of the former Masonic Temple wing.

Quintus’ sons, Abraham and Samuel, helped her with several of the murals.

The Ventura Marsh mural was painted on the wall at the rear of the children’s stacks in the basement of the library. This mural was painted on the wall instead of canvas because of the architectural features in that space.

“Sometimes when you paint on canvas, the canvas actually does shrink a little bit so we thought there would be too many issues,” Quintus said.

The mural is filled with plants and wildlife above and below the water painted in dark greens and blues and browns.

“There’s different ways you can paint murals. You can paint them very cartoon-like and kind of flat, and a lot of murals are painted that way,” Quintus said. She tried to make the marsh mural very lifelike.

“I know how Clear Lake is also a place where a lot of fishermen come and I wanted them to be able to come in here and be able to say that’s a muskie and that’s a northern and those are blue gills and perch and the catfish and the crappies.”

The mural was covered with a coat of sealant to protect the painting from little fingerprints.

“I want the kids to come up and not be afraid to put their hands on it,” she said.

Also in the children’s area is a mural dedicated to the natural beauty of Lone Tree Point. Another mural shows a group of happy children enjoying a summer’s day playing in the sand at City Beach. The fourth mural in the children’s area depicts several water enthusiasts on the lake near the Sea Wall.

Library Director Jean Casey said the murals are very popular with the patrons.

“They just love them,” she said.

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