Honoring the Role of Industry in Rhinelander
New Mural Depicts Founders from Across Rhinelander’s History
On September 3, 2020, AirPro Fan & Blower Company unveiled a mural celebrating the role of industry in Rhinelander’s history. The Rhinelander community, as well as the descendants of its industrial founders, gathered from all across the nation to witness the mural’s introduction.
“The idea with these blank walls is, let’s take this and let’s produce something that will have more of a community unifying effect,” explained AirPro’s founder, Keith White Sr. “And my thought was, of course, tying in the entire history of the town through the story of the mural.”
Standing 53 feet wide by 12 feet high and designed and painted by Wisconsin artist Alicia Rheal, Rheal Imagination, the mural spans the outer wall located on the west side of the AirPro Fan & Blower Company main office building facing Sutliff Avenue. Rheal led a team of several artists, painting the scene in pieces in the studio before applying it to the AirPro wall.
The mural chronicles the founders of industry in Rhinelander, starting with the first logging business founded by Anderson Brown, coinciding with the arrival of the railroad in 1886. In all, the mural features 24 founders and their businesses that helped make Rhinelander what it is today.
The Mural Ribbon-Cutting Event
Descendants of the founders commemorated in the mural came from across the country to join the Rhinelander community at the ribbon-cutting event. From the individuals to the overall community, the impact of the contributions of industry to the community was powerful.
White elaborated, “This mural is meant to draw you into a story, and the more that you’re drawn in, the deeper the effect is to you. Whether you’re five, you’re fifteen, you’re 20, you’ve lived here a day or a hundred years, it’s meant to have a similar effect of simply saying “wow, there’s history that’s represented here, and I really need to honor it.”
Capturing the Moment
The video above captures the intention and impact of the event. You can hear community and founders’ family members’ comments from the day, and see the mural in production as well as finished. According to one attendee, “It’s spectacular really. I think it adds to the city, and I think the thought of having other industries or other companies here do the same thing is a worthwhile endeavor.”
White added, “We wanted the mural to end looking into the future, and I hope that some of you who are here today may create some industrial business of your own because there are some blanks to be filled in. This mural is dedicated to industrial founders of the past, present, and future. Your invaluable contributions have and will continue to make a lasting impact on local communities for years to come. Thank you.”