Work on mural moves forward
Clintonville museum commissions professional artist
By Jeff C. Hoffman
Like a dream, a large mural is coming into focus at the FWD Seagrave Museum.
Door County painter and muralist Ram Rojas was commissioned to do the work.
He is the same artist who painted the mural on the south side of the historic factory at Seagrave Fire Apparatus on East 12th Street in Clintonville.
“Our project came from a dream I had,” said museum organizer Marcia Olen. “After the purchase of the large campus (the Topp Stewart Tractor Factory Facility), I started thinking about having a mural painted one day, to set off the buildings and identify it as the FWD/Seagrave Museum.”
Olen spoke about her dream to a friend who was living in Door County for the summer, and she said she had an artist in mind if ever she wanted to make her dream come true.
“She put me in touch with Ram several years ago and we talked about the possibility. This is the culmination of his talent and my dream. This is a gift from me to the museum and the community,” said Olen.
According to Olen, Ram’s creativity is transforming a plain outside end wall of a commercial building into a charming, historical, whimsical, special mural. It is in part “trompe l’oeill” which is French for “to fool the eye,” and is designed to deceive the viewer’s eye.
Rojas’s formal training began in his teenage years. At the age of 14 he was selected from his art training at the National Art Academy Caracas, Venezuela to travel to the United States to study at the Academy of Vedic Art in Los Angeles.
Rojas refers to himself and his style of painting as Classicist. He has traveled to Europe to study the Old Master’s works, living and working mostly in Florence, Italy.
According to information provided on his website, while in Europe, Ram’s work was printed in multi-language publications around the world. He has illustrated history, religion, art, mythology, philosophy and science books.
His publishers sent him on an educational tour of India where he studied ancient cultures, methods and theory of oriental art.
After returning to America, Ram studied at the Barnstone Studios in Philadelphia. He then moved to California where he focused on naturalistic pieces and portraiture.
Ram has been an active member of the art community in Door County since 1989. He said that he is fascinated with the beauty of everyday existence there.
He started painting the FWD Seagrave Museum mural in early July. He plans to complete the work by the end of the summer. “We have been planning this for years,” said Rojas. “I am trying to record the history of this place. I am learning a lot.” “We are constantly talking about the history of this town, which I find fascinating.”
Rojas said that he hopes to honor the accomplishments of the founders of the Four Wheel Drive Company as well as the efforts of the workforce and the community.
The mural is being painted on the south exterior wall of one of the main museum buildings and will include images of long time Four Wheel Drive President W.A. Olen at the left side and Seagrave and Company founder Frederic S. Seagrave at the right.
Also appearing on the mural is a rendering of the Model B Ammunition Carrier that served on the battlefields of World War I in Europe. Rojas said he has set aside room on the mural for all the original founders of the company.
In 2016, the FWD Foundation acquired this building, the former Topp Stewart Tractor Factory on 15th Street in Clintonville. This has become the FWD Seagrave Museum and allows for additional exhibits with space indoors for over 80 trucks. While FWD/Seagrave trucks are the main focus, there are other rare trucks on display.
The museum now features more than 70 vehicles, a model truck collection, the Kuester Gauge Exhibit, FWD/Seagrave Exhibit, the FWD Eliason Motor Toboggan and more. The museum is also a research and archival resource library.
The museum is located at the east end of 15th Street in Clintonville’s industrial park.
Visitors wishing to tour the facility are asked to call for an appointment.
The large mural can be viewed from 15th Street and Staff Sgt. Warren Hanson Drive.