Guttenberg public mural depicts "The Good Life"

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A public art piece, Das Gute Leben (The Good Life), located at 115 Schiller Street was made possible through grant money received from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Local mural artist Ketaki Poyekar has recently completed her public art piece Das Gute Leben  (The Good Life) located on the west side of GEIDC member Andy Riemer's Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) Hayden's Hideout at 115 Schiller Street in Guttenberg. 

Community Vitality/ Chamber Director Brandie Tomkins was the catalyst for the project, which was made possible by grant money received from the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (UMGC)

Since 2017, Ketaki Poyekar has been overseeing her live/work space Studio K8Ki in Elkader. Ketaki grew up in Mumbai, India, and always knew she wanted to be a designer. She attended college in Mumbai, and furthered her education pursuing an MFA in Web Design and New Media at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Calif.  

Halfway into her master's degree she met her future husband, Tony Hauber, who grew up in Elkader. After a decade the couple realized they both wanted to start their own independent practices, and returned to Tony's roots. 

Since that time, Studio K8Ki has flourished into a full-time business with a focus on logo, brand identity, website and app design.

Mural artist

Ketaki's fascination with painting has been a lifelong affair, deeply rooted in her earliest memories. "With a master's degree in graphic design, web design, and news media, I've honed my craft over the years," she told The Press. "The pivotal moment came when I decided to intertwine my expertise in brand development with my passion for painting, leading to significant projects like Das Gute Leben. This mural is a vibrant homage to the rich German heritage and encapsulates the essence of life in Guttenberg."

In determining the size and layout of each mural design Ketaki's process is quite meticulous. "It begins with measuring the wall and capturing its image, which becomes my canvas on the iPad," she explained. "Sketching directly over this image allows me to envision the final piece in its intended environment. The layout crystallizes during this digital drafting stage."

With the design in place, she employs a projector to cast the concept onto the wall, tracing the outlines with a Sharpie pen or chalk. "After priming the surface, I sketch in the finer details and embark on the painting journey, section by section, guided by the initial outlines," she added. 

For a durable mural that can withstand harsh weather conditions and the test of time, Ketaki prefers Chroma Mural Paint. "Its water-soluble nature makes it a dream to work with, yet once dry, it's there to stay for years," she noted. "When it comes to rough textures like brick, trim brushes are my go-to tools, allowing me to navigate the intricacies of such challenging surfaces with precision."

Every element of the Schiller Street mural was conceptualized and drawn by Ketaki. "Creating my designs on my iPad serves as a blueprint for the mural. This hands-on approach ensures that every stroke on the wall is a direct translation of my original vision," she shared. 

The Schiller Street mural marks Ketaki's second public art piece. "While I'm relatively new to the world of public art, the response has been incredibly heartwarming," she said with gratitude. "The community's embrace and the outpouring of appreciation for my work have been profoundly affirming. In many ways, this collective affirmation is my most cherished accolade. It fuels my passion and drive to create more pieces that resonate deeply with people."

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