Mural honoring veterans will grace East End

Community can honor veterans with art

By Sarah Nigbor
Posted 3/27/24

East Ellsworth will soon be home to another mural and the public can have a meaningful role in its completion.

People will have the opportunity to include a loved one’s name on the …

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Mural honoring veterans will grace East End

Community can honor veterans with art


East Ellsworth will soon be home to another mural and the public can have a meaningful role in its completion.

People will have the opportunity to include a loved one’s name on the “Thank You for Your Service” mural, planned for 287 N. Morse St. The mural will honor the brave men and women who have served in the United States military. People can choose to honor an active, retired or deceased member of any military branch; they do not need to be Ellsworth residents to be included.

Kayleen Jakes of the E-Town Arts Committee said the idea for the mural came from the committee and will be overseen by the Ellsworth E3 Community Development Corporation. River Falls-based artist Dena Young of Dena June Creations has been selected as the muralist.

“Dena actually reached out to us in 2022 to introduce herself,” Jakes said. “At that time, she was interested in helping add art to our community. It was because of her interest in being part of our project that we knew we wanted to include her in a mural on our Mural Walk.”

Once the committee was ready to move forward with the mural, they showed Young the building where it will be located.

“Since meeting her, we knew she would be a great fit,” Jakes said. “Her excitement to be part of this project made our decision to hire her very easy.”

Young believes public art is meant to bring communities together. She was excited to help design the American-themed mural.

“What better way to unite than honor our veterans?” Young said. “I have a younger brother who is a captain in the Army, and I’ve watched him travel the world (currently based in Germany) serving our country. With 2024 being an election year, I think now more than ever people are going to resonate with this mural. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you stand, we are all able to stand together because of those who have fought, and continue to fight, for our country.”

The design was a collaboration between Young and the E-Town Arts Committee. With prep work to the building, designing, priming, painting and adding customized names, the mural is set to cost around $10,000, Jakes said.

“We will be leaving extra room for additional names to be added in the future,” she added. “We understand that maybe not everyone will know about the option to purchase a name to be added to the mural, so we want to leave space for future additions.”

When the Arts Committee began its Mural Walk, members knew right away they wanted a mural to honor those who have served.

“We want all our military service members to know that they are appreciated,” Jakes said.

While building prep is currently underway, Young will not start the mural until it is fully funded. The committee hopes this can occur in the next couple of months, so it can be unveiled early this summer.

“We absolutely would love a celebration when the mural is complete,” Jakes said.

Dena June Creations

Young started her business when her oldest son was 6 months old. Working several part-time jobs while being a first-time mom was tough, so she decided to start her own mural painting business.

“After a few jobs it was abundantly clear that this is where I am meant to be,” she said. “Like most artists will tell you, I have been passionate about creating art for as long as I can remember. I have so many memories of sitting at my grandma’s dining room table painting, coloring, gluing, and exploring different mediums.”

The summer after she graduated high school, a frozen yogurt shop hired Young to paint a mural of the town’s iconic sites.

“Almost a decade later I rediscovered my love for painting large-scale and now offer customized hand-painted murals to businesses, residents and communities,” Young said.

When she began painting murals full-time in 2022, she thought she’d be primarily painting nurseries and kids’ rooms. While she has done many of those, she also likes to work with businesses to create unique designs that fit their brand.

“This year I am focusing on community-based murals, which are quickly becoming the projects I am most passionate about,” Young said. “I see so much value in public art and love working alongside community members who also strive to bring people together through art.”

While murals are her primary artistic focus, she also offers custom canvases and pet portraits. She has painted everything from concrete lawn ornaments to custom corn hole bag sets.

“Inspiration to create can come from almost anywhere at any time, you just need to keep your eyes open to the world around you,” Young said. “Most of my creativity comes easily after spending quality time in nature. When I’m not working on a mural or commission piece, most days you’ll find me painting local flora and fauna.”

The mural

Once the Thank You for Your Service mural design is finalized and the timeline and scope of work are set, Young will assess the wall’s condition and power wash it to rid it of any dirt or debris. She may have to patch some areas and seal the wall before painting.

Transferring the design to the wall can happen several ways. Young said the easiest way is to project the image onto the wall and sketch a rough outline of the design. The next best option would be to create a “doodle grid.”

“This is done by spray painting doodles across the wall and then digitally placing your design over the doodled wall at 75% opacity so you can reference the design and get an accurate sketch,” Young said. “For this mural, I will likely be doing a combination of both techniques.”

Once the design is sketched, Young will begin her favorite part – painting. Her specialty is using a good old-fashioned paintbrush. She estimates the mural will take about two weeks to complete.

“I love talking with people while working on projects, so if you see me painting, don’t be shy to stop by and say hi!” she said.

People can honor a loved one by paying $50 to have their name on the mural; more than one name can be sponsored. People can also choose to sponsor a name from the “Fallen Heroes of Ellsworth” list.

To purchase names, visit and click on the “Make a donation,” which will lead you to the mural tab. Once making the purchase, respond to the email where your receipt was sent with the name(s) you wish to have applied to the mural. If you wish to sponsor a “Fallen Heroes” name, you can specify that in your email as well.

Thank Your for Your Service mural, veterans, E-Town Arts Committee, East End, Ellsworth E3, Mural Walk, Dena Young, Dena June Creations, Ellsworth