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Rustech finds new identity in art

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Allison Hunsley first put her paint brush to the front of the Rustech Brewing Company building on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Over the course of the next 15 days she spent taking the concept that owners Bill and Penny Burt envisioned for a mural on the outside walls of their brewery.

Hunsley said that the Burt’s reached out to her because of her other work in town. A year ago, Hunsley completed a floral-themed mural on the wall adjacent to the Monticello Chamber of Commerce building. That was followed up by the painting of the Chamber building, itself.

“We watched her whole process of creating that and we were blown away by how she transformed downtown,” Penny Burt said of the Highway 25 mural. “We wanted to bring her back and have her showcase more of her work.”

The Burts said that they had also heard good things about Hunsley through Johnny Olson - the owner of Fish MLS Realty and the Fish sunflower field. She has done artwork on both sides of Olson’s trailer and raved to the Burts about her work ethic and creativity.

“When the owners reached out to me, they told me they were looking for gears and pulley systems to be painted on the front of their building,” Hunsley said.

Penny Burt said that they wanted people to know what they were about on the inside just by looking at the outside of their building. And that was accomplished through Hunsley’s mural.

For this project Hunsley used an acrylic marker, spray paint, and exterior acrylic paint to create the gears.

“Personally, as an artist, I like to have some freedom to change and alter the design as I begin to work with the materials and the wall,” Hunsley said.

Thus, after deciding on a final concept, Penny and Bill were open to the design changing a bit.

“After two full days of adding values to the gears, I came up with a new approach that I thought would look better. I came back and spray painted over my work, adding 3D shadows that I thought better captured the vision,” she said.

“I find that I learn a lot and get new ideas as I go, unlike some artists, I don’t like my final idea to be set in stone. I like to shift and experiment to what I believe will yield the best final result,” Hunsley added.

Penny Burt sang Hunsley’s praises.

“When COVID-19 hit we knew we wanted to add more seating outside, thus came the patio and mural,” Penny Burt said.

“I had full trust in her. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I will definitely have her back to do more soon. It adds color and dimension and people have even said the gears look realistic,” Burt said.

For the most part Hunsley worked with neutral greys for the project, but near the end of the project she was able to add a pop of color.

“My favorite part of this mural was adding the orange pulleys at the end,” Hunsley said. “I think the touch of a bright color made the whole thing come together and really pop. Oh, and trying Rustech’s tasty beer didn’t hurt either.”

Hunsley said she saw all extremes of weather when she was working.

The artist said on her first days at Rustech it was 80 degrees and she would come home sunburnt. By the final week she was wearing a winter jacket to stay warm from the snow.

“The super cold days challenged me due to the fact that I had to take intermittent breaks to warm up my hands in the car, but the hardest part was working in the snow,” Hunsley said. “My final day painting, I would paint a line and then immediately have to blow dry the area as the falling snow wouldn’t allow it to fully dry.”

What made working on the mural all worth it was the relationships created along the way. \

“The people who allow me to express my creativity by using their building as my canvas are the reason I get to do what I love every day. Working with awesome people like Penny and Bill keep my days exciting and make my projects that much more enjoyable.”

Hunsley wants to continue to do projects like this for a long time to come.

The process was fun for Hunsley. She even said that her friends would come and watch her work while enjoying the delicious beers at Rustech.

To be able to finish a project like that and give the owners something they want and love is what makes a project special for Hunsley.

“It feels a bit surreal to me once a mural is finished,” Hunsley said. “After so many days of hard work, I finally get to stand back and admire it. Murals are interesting, because when I am so close to the wall nitpicking the details – it’s only when I stand back to view it that I can see how the small pieces have come together. When I finally drive away from my little ‘office’ that I’ve gotten so used to for weeks, it can be bittersweet knowing I wont be back the following day. I drive away knowing it’s for the community to enjoy from that point on and my work is done.”

“If anybody could ever use an artist, she’d be the one to go to,” Penny Burt said. “She’s done so many different styles and she’ll take anything you want and give you some ideas to work with. She’s amazing.”

Reach Jessie Meyen at jessie.meyen@apgecm.com

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