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Sycamore student's art 'brightens everybody's day'

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 9:58 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Sycamore High School senior Keegan Callahan, 17, stands in front of his nearly complete mural inside the Sycamore Police Department on Thursday. He's worked on the large scale mural every Wednesday this summer and hopes to complete the work by the start of school.
Caption
(Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com)
The downtown scene of State St. in Sycamore is painted inside of a sycamore leaf in a mural by Sycamore High School senior Keegan Callahan, 17, on a wall inside the Sycamore Police Department on Thursday. Callahan said the details in the trees, lightposts, cars, and the lettering around the leaf are all that is left to complete the mural that he's been working on all summer.

SYCAMORE – Sycamore High School senior Keegan Callahan has been spending Wednesday nights all summer painting at the Sycamore police station.

But the 17-year-old hasn't gotten into any legal trouble. When an art teacher announced to the class in May that the Sycamore Police Department was interested in having a mural painted, Callahan quickly sketched a picture of the iconic Sycamore leaf with a depiction of the town inside the leaf.

Police officers liked it so much they wanted it on the wall at their main hallway.

"I already feel pretty good about it," Callahan said. "I'm usually pretty harsh when I critique my own work. I think it'll turn out pretty good. It’s a good use of space. I'm excited to see what it'll look like when it's finished."

Most of his sketch is already finished at the end of the police station's main hallway. All Callahan needs to do is paint street lights, some trees, cars, penny meters and the lettering, "Sycamore Police Department, Established 1836."

He hopes to finish by the end of the summer.

Callahan's love for painting began when he took an art class while in preschool at The Art Attack. He is a student in Sycamore High School's Art Club. During his junior year, he painted his only other mural at the school's art room of Egyptian pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, Sears Tower, a city and small village.

While he hopes to attend an art school upon high school graduation, Callahan is focused right now on finishing the police station mural. He listens to music by artists such as Brand New, Blink-182, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles to keep his mind focused.

"I don’t always listen to music, but when I'm not in the best mindset, it helps me get into it," he said. "It helps me a lot."

Sycamore police officers can't help but notice the work Callahan is creating. Sycamore police Lt. Cary Singer has been employed by the Sycamore Police Department for almost 32 years and has passed by the long-empty hallway near the employee entrance hundreds of times.

Singer said the mural represents the growth and history of the city.

Callahan has even taken suggestions from police officers of adding a squad car and penny meters to the mural.

"It brightens everybody's day," Singer said. "The wall was plain. It's now the cornerstone of history and nostalgia. It's bright and friendly. He's bright and talented."

Callahan hopes that as he progresses as an artist, he'll always have the mural to look back on where he started.

"It's been a pretty big thing in my life," he said. "I think years and years later, I'll see a part of myself that I had the motivation to do something like that. It'll be pretty uplifting for me."

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