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Hand-Painted Murals Stretch Across Acclaimed Illinois Highway Using Dibond Aluminum Composite Substrate

Lincoln Highway Murals, Jay Allen ShawCraft Signs, Illinois, Dibond Aluminum Composite Substrate
As a centennial celebration, the Lincoln Highway’s history was immortalized with a series of hand-painted murals that stretch across 179 miles of Illinois from Fulton to Lynwood. Once the original U.S. 30 route, the historical significance of the Lincoln Highway was captured with a series, hand-painted by Jay Allen.

Lincoln Highway Murals, Jay Allen ShawCraft Signs, Illinois, Dibond Aluminum Composite SubstrateIn an article with Illinois’ local Quad-City Times, Susan Hronik, program director for the Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition, discussed the murals explaining their historical references as they directly relate to the community. When describing a specific mural of a mother and child on the Mississippi River Bridge, Hronik explained, “That is truly their story.”

Jay Allen, owner of ShawCraft Signs in Machesney Park, painted the murals on Dibond aluminum composite. The project began back in 2006 and was funded by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and a Tourism Attraction Development Grant.

Lincoln Highway Murals, Jay Allen ShawCraft Signs, Illinois, Dibond Aluminum Composite SubstrateAllen described, “Officials from each town involved in the project would determine a story of how the Lincoln Highway influences their city’s development. If they didn’t have a story, we conveyed an aspect of the Lincoln Highway’s overall story.” Using general information regarding the railroad’s use, the murals sometimes focused on historically significant moments from the early 20th century such as the Transcontinental Convoy of U.S. Army vehicles led by Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1919 to test the potential mobilization of Army vehicles during war.

Lincoln Highway Murals, Jay Allen ShawCraft Signs, Illinois, Dibond Aluminum Composite SubstrateThe murals are valued at $10,000 a piece and took Allen ten days to paint each 200-square-foot mural. With the help of a longtime ShawCraft employee, Joe Marshall, the murals were applied to Dibond aluminum composite, which was cut into five, 4 x 10 foot pieces for each. The shapes were cut using a Gerber Sabre 408 CNC router. To ensure the longevity of the murals, a Marabu’s ClearShield single-part, catalyzed-acrylic clear coat was applied upon completion.

The decision to commission an artist to hand paint the murals allows a more intimate historical depiction. The murals are part of the centennial celebration, creating a communal sense of pride that stretches across the acclaimed highway.

information courtesy of Quad-City Times and Signs of the Times
photography courtesy of Signs of the Times + Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition (ILHC)

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