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A new view . . . Artist Tony Stafki paints details on the mural he was
commissioned to do for the new Gooseneck Implement building in Kenmare.
Kevin Borud, owner/manager, chose a favorite John Deere tractor scene
for the painting, which Stafki enhanced with Canada geese and a background
of the Des Lacs valley hills seen from the windows of the dealership showroom.
By Caroline Downs
Anyone walking into the new Gooseneck Implement dealership in Kenmare expects to see the latest products by John Deere, and the showroom will not disappoint those customers.
But the centerpiece of the facility is not a riding mower or a rugged Gator or even a gleaming new tractor, despite the bright green and gold marketing displays.
Instead, all eyes will go first to the hand-painted mural on the east wall, behind the reception desk, where a 6’ x 16’ painting depicts an autumn haying scene in the Kenmare area.
The mural was created and painted last week by artist Tony Stafki of Minneapolis-St. Paul, who was hired by contractor Kiehm Construction Inc. of Lakeville, MN. “The builder does a mural in every one of his new units,” Stafki said. “I just finished one in Ashley, North Dakota.”
Stafki, who owns and operates Walls of Art, Inc., has painted five John Deere murals now, with the first three done for dealerships in Minnesota. “The mural is a gift from the builder,” he said. “This will draw your eye to the front desk.”
Gooseneck Implement general manager Kevin Borud selected the scene for the mural, which features a mid-1930s model John Deere General Purpose tractor pulling a hay rake, based on a John Deere commemorative plate.
Borud also asked for Kenmare’s iconic Canada geese to be included in the picture, but Stafki was allowed to design the rest of the painting.
Using over a hundred colors of acrylic paints and a variety of brushes and sponges, Stafki started the picture last Wednesday with outlines of the tractor and barn sketched in pencil on the wall.
“Sometimes, I send sketches back and forth, but the builder is confident in my work,” he said. “They leave it to me. They wanted the geese in there, and I added the local landscape since the opportunity was there to do that.”
The “local landscape” Stafki chose includes the rolling hills and coulees viewed from the Gooseneck Implement showroom windows. He added some trees and extended the hayfield, all beneath a broad prairie sky.
“Murals are supposed to be customized for the space,” he said.
Stafki has operated his mural business for the past five years. “I’ve always been artistic,” he said, “but I had been doing interior painting. Then, I saw a mural artist at work.”
He realized his own talents could be better served by painting murals, so he spent two years practicing. “I took a couple of classes, but otherwise I’m self-taught,” he said.
Stafki had his first commission from Kiehm Construction two years ago, and he has become proficient at re-creating the vintage model tractors that have been featured in all five murals he has painted for the contractor. “I think it brings back memories for the older customers,” he said. “The younger customers seem to be interested in the history that’s shown.”
He spent three days on the Kenmare painting and finished Friday night. “I had to go down to Hansen’s Hardware to get more paint,” he said, laughing as he pointed out the dozens of cans of paint organized below the mural. “He supplied the paint for the red barn.”
Stafki’s schedule is full through April, with his next job taking him to Burnsville, MN, where he will create murals for a daycare center. He has painted murals for jobs in several states, with examples of his work available online at www.tonyswallsofart.com.
Despite his busy calendar, Stafki slows down to give each mural, and the customers who will live with that picture, his full attention. As late as Friday morning, he was still receiving suggestions from Gooseneck Implement general manager Kevin Borud about the appearance of the farmer driving the tractor in the Kenmare scene. Borud and other staff members decided the mural should include Gooseneck’s previous owner, Darrell Borud.
For Stafki, such changes and suggestions are just part of a day’s work. “I know the design is going to be tweaked,” he said. “I’m used to that. I want them to be as happy as they can be with their mural.”
For customers of Kenmare’s Gooseneck Implement dealership, that means a bit of the area’s landscape and community history will be on permanent display in full color.
The mural fills the area behind the reception desk
at Gooseneck Implement in Kenmare.