LOWELL | With the lifelike images of rainforest denizens, sea creatures and Midwest critters as a backdrop, the "Wonderful World of Wild Animals" mural was officially dedicated Saturday at the Lowell Public Library.
"The kids are looking and wondering about the world," Library Director Gene Pidzarko said of the 1,050 square feet of artistry by muralist Dennis Orlowski, of Michigan.
"It's a feast for the imagination," Pidzarko said.
For retired Library Director Sandy Morgan, who began the project with Orlowski two years ago, the mural is a "masterpiece."
"Your talent goes beyond anything words can describe," Morgan said. "(Orlowski's artwork) will always be an important part of our community."
Kaylee Elliot, 7, of Lowell, is one of the local children painted by Orlowski into the mural scenes.
"It feels good," she said of seeing her image not only in the library, but on posters around the town.
"It's like she's a star," said her mother, Nicole Elliot.
Seventeen-year old Amanda Krusza's sister Sarah was another child who won a lottery to be in the mural.
"I think it's amazing. It's really cool," said Amanda Krusza, of Lowell. "Kids look and ask, 'What's that?' It's a new experience for them."
During the dedication, Orlowski shared some of the steps he took in creating the mural.
He said he began studying under a church artist as a teen.
"I always admired the Renaissance artists. They could draw. You need to draw and start early," he said.
Orlowski's son, Sterling Orlowsky, sang "On the Banks of the Wabash," and the Greater Federation of Women's Clubs Lowell Women's Club served hors d'oeuvres and desserts and ran a silent auction.
Pidzarko expressed amazement that a library could commission such wonderful public art for the children's room.
Morgan said Orlowski agreed to create the three walls of mural for whatever amount of money the library could raise. He was presented with a check, amount undisclosed, Saturday.
"We didn't know if we could pay him anything," she said.
Orlowski said he believes public art is valuable to educate, express civic pride and present cultural themes.