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Downtown BE gets a face lift

By Staff | Oct 20, 2015

Steve DeLaitsch can be seen working nearly every day on the new mural being painted in downtown Blue Earth on the side of the Blue Earth Graphics Building. DeLaitsch has already painted a number of murals in Southern Minnesota.

Steve DeLaitsch has been an artist all of his life.

Like most people, he started drawing and painting when he was four years old. But unlike most people, he never stopped.

He trained at an art school in Chicago, years ago, he says, in water colors and oil painting.

And now he is busy painting a giant mural on the side of the Blue Earth Graphics building in downtown Blue Earth. The mural is a project of the Blue Earth Community Foundation, with assistance from grants from Valspar Paint Corporation and Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

“I call it ‘A Walk into the Future'” DeLaitsch says. “It is a museum type faade, but instead of a look at the past, it will be a glimpse at the future.”

Artist Steve DeLaitsch is shown with paint brush in hand as he gets ready to go up in the lift and continue painting the mural in downtown Blue Earth.

He wants his mural to be viewed on a positive note and be an inspiration for downtown Blue Earth.

“Like all art, you (the viewer) can make of it what you want,” he says. “I want it to capture your attention, and then have you use your imagination to view it.”

This is not DeLaitsch’s first mural.

“I just completed my fourth one in Cannon Falls this past summer,” he says. “I have one in Hartland, three major ones in Owatonna, others in places like Clinton Falls, Springfield.”

DeLaitsch, who grew up in Owatonna and lived there for many years, now resides in Waseca, where he has previously been the director of the Arts Center there.

Ironically, he has no murals in Waseca; however he has done several large indoor wall paintings there.

While his mural painting in Blue Earth is getting a lot of attention lately, this is not his first project in the city or in Faribault County.

DeLaitsch has been the monument engraver for Blue Earth Monument for the past few years.

“I probably spend 100 to 110 days a year here in Blue Earth, working,” he explains. “I was first hired by Harley Schmitgen and now I’ve worked with Mark and Lori (Maher) for the past four years.”

DeLaitsch does the fine engraving of specialized art at the corners of monuments, or the personalized portraits, farm scenes, etc., on the monuments.

You can view his work on the new Veterans Memorials monuments in both Elmore and Winnebago.

“I have also done some art projects for people in this area,” DeLaitsch says. “I did an eight foot by 60 foot indoor wall painting for a farmer by Wells, for instance.”

DeLaitsch, who also does some high-end remodeling projects for people, says he has been very fortunate with his art.

“I have done pretty well as far as artists go,” he explains. “It can be difficult for about 99 percent of the artists out there. But I have been able to do enough work to support this habit of mine.”

That has included months-long stays in places such as Australia, China and Italy, where he was able to spend his time painting.

But, now he is busy painting in Blue Earth. He hopes to complete the mural yet this fall; but of course, that depends on the Minnesota weather.

“I should get it substantially completed no matter what the weather does,” he says. “But my goal is to get it all done.”

DeLaitsch says knowing when the mural, or any of his paintings, is completely finished is a bit of a trick.

“I can do too little and the painting will be just fine,” he says. “It is when I do too much that it doesn’t look right.”

His goal is to have this mural turn out just right. And his other goal is that his work will help change the dynamic of the downtown area.

“It should help make this a comfortable, inviting place,” he says. “That has happened in other towns where I have done murals like this.”

He says one of his murals in Owatonna, in a more run down part of town, sparked a whole redo of the area, with a new park next to the mural.