Public art creates local color


ARCOLA, Ill. (WCIA) — Brooms, murals, hippies, and dolls don’t have much in common. That is, unless you make a stop in Douglas County.

Downtown Arcola is decked out.

The colorful pieces decorating the business facades and standing on street corners all tell a story, from the eclectic “sweeping beauties,” to the massive wall dog murals.

“First of all, it’s way space. Second of all, they’re all works of art. And third of all, they tell the history of your community. So…what’s not to like about them?”

Pat Monahan works downtown.

He sees the things people make stops for every day, and he never gets sick of the sights.

“It just gives you a feeling of pride that your community is doing really some long-term things that’ll be around for a long time, that will make people happier,” said Monahan. “I mean you cannot help but look at that Raggedy Ann and Andy and feel better about yourself.”

There’s one monument in particular though that attracts people from all over the country, and inspires nostalgia from the 1960s.

“They enjoy it, because they were either born then, or they remember that era, and they want to show their kids or something,” said Sherron Moomaw.

Moomaw moved to Arcola with her husband in the late 60s…right around the peak of what she calls “hippie time.”

“When the hippies arrived, they opened up the world. Everyone could openly say that they criticized the government, or that they could have ‘free love,'” explained Moomaw. “He built it to reflect his life. He wasn’t a hippie because he had five kids to raise.”

Moomaw’s husband felt so inspired by the lifestyle following the hippie movement, he constructed this quirky collection of keepsakes to honor it.

“He said that the pieces on it are the pieces of junk that you get from living. Everybody you meet, everything you do leaves a little piece of junk to you,” said Moomaw.

So, brooms, murals, hippies, and dolls may not mean much on their own…and they certainly don’t have much in common, but they share a common place in Our Town Arcola.

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