MALTA – A mural by Dixon artist Nora Balayti recently debuted on the side of a Lincoln Highway building owned by Bob Kyler Excavation, offering a vibrant look at life in the village of Malta.
Bob Kyler, who opened his excavation company in 1965 died three years ago, but his wife Shirley Kyler, a lifelong resident of Malta, was there to see the mural installed on the Route 38 building.
“Oh I think it’s wonderful, I think we’ve got such good people in Malta – I’ve been here all my life. The committee just did a good job,” Shirley Kyler said during the Oct. 19 mural unveiling.
The Malta Seedling Project Committee, a volunteer economic development group composed of local citizens and business partners, helped facilitate the mural project. The committee regularly works with the Village Board to enhance the community, welcome new businesses and support community needs.
Balayti, a 39-year-old Dixon resident and Northern Illinois University alumna who has painted hundreds of murals was chosen for the project. Balayti said she normally doesn’t do submission work but decided to send in an application after a member of the committee reached out to her, urging her to put her name in for consideration.
“I took a shot at it, being that I grew up in a similar area, I mean same area really,” Balayti said. “I kind of got where they were coming from as far as what kind of values they were trying to portray and imagery. So I definitely got where they were coming from so I knew I had a good shot.”
The committee began the planning process for the mural in late 2019 and the first item on the committee’s docket was finding an appropriate place for it to be displayed. Malta Resident Brenda Jergens, 60, who chairs the Malta Seedling Project Committee, and is a village trustee, said Bob Kyler had volunteered the building – with its large wall facing south toward the village – for the initiative.
“He always wanted to do something on the front of the building,” Jergens said.
Jergens’ counterpart, Jacque Fucilla, 57, also a part of the Malta Seedling Project, said she reached out to the Kylers about using the building for the mural three years ago.
“I thought their building right here on the main drag through Malta would be a great canvas for this artwork and so it’s kind of one of the first things we did,” Fucilla said. “Because no sense in going through the work of planning a mural if you don’t have some place to put it.”
With a location for the artwork secured, the committee sent out requests to area artists, seeking their submissions for the mural.
Balayti said she was told the committee liked her design but asked for a few tweaks, which was something she was happy to do.
“And we tweaked and I’m glad we did because it’s developed because of people coming together,” Balayti said. “It kind of just goes to show one artist can do something but things are naturally better when you have other people.”
The committee received two grants from the DeKalb County Community Foundation, though donations are still being solicited to help fund the project – which ended up costing more than $10,000 – fully.
Despite the cost, Village President Bob Iverson said the mural is “a great project to get accomplished” and he’s pleased to see it completed. He also credited Fucilla with making it happen.
“Like I said this one’s been Jacque’s [Fucilla] baby and I’m so proud and happy to see it’s finally coming to fruition,” Iverson, 47, said.
Looking at the mural, just before a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on her property, Shirley Kyler said her late husband would have been “thrilled to see” the artwork displayed on their property.
“He’s been gone now three years but he’d be happy to see this today,” Shirley Kyler said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle