An original Abraham Lincoln portrait by Dwight artist Cat Clausen that was sold to a patron in Springfield a few years ago will now be a mural on a building — a much bigger version of course. And the man who bought the painting doesn’t even know it. But now he likely will, since the mural will be unveiled at 5 p.m. today (May 17) at the five-story building, 421 E. Capitol. A reception will follow at Hoogland Arts, 420 S. 6th St., Springfield.
“They are going to have some guys on the roof pull up a tarp,” Clausen told The Paper last week.
The Lincoln portrait will be 18 feet, eight inches high by 14 feet wide, printed on a laminated vinyl decal, similar to those decals used on race cars. The original was 48 inches high, Clausen said.
The building is “metal-clad” so such a sign is made for this type of surface.
She said it will last 20 years, and can be retouched after that, if needed. It will be on the north side of the building, “so it won’t be blasted by the sun,” Clausen explained.
The reproduction will be in black and white and will have her signature on it.
There will be a quote by Abraham Lincoln beneath the portrait: “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” “Jesse White owns the building,” said Clausen, referring to the Illinois Secretary of State.
How this all happened is a rather twisted tale of chance, and Clausen finds it humorous that the actual owner of the original painting is not aware of this mural.
She said three years ago, Clausen was doing an art show, and this particular painting of Lincoln was on display for sale. It was seen by a man named Dennis Bringuet of Springfield, who happens to own and operate Ace Sign Company of Springfield, a multi-generational sign company that makes signs nationwide. “He said ‘I’d like to put this on a building,’” Clausen remembered. That same day the portrait was sold to a doctor in Springfield. Clausen never had any copies made of the portrait.
“It’s a good thing Dennis took a photo, otherwise I would have to track down the owner of the painting,” she said.
“He does not know it will be on this building,” she said of the painting’s owner, with a sly smile. “His jaw will drop when he sees it.”
The original is not black and white, but has splashes of color mixed in, Clausen said.
The city mural is a “gift” to Springfield by Bringuet as a memorial to his late mother, Louise, and father Joe Bringuet. Louise (Horn) Bringuet is the daughter of the Ace Sign Co. founders Franklin and Alvina Horn.
“Both Springfield residents and our city’s visiting guests appreciate art, especially when it comes to Abraham Lincoln,” Dennis Bringuet said.
“I hope that when people see this rendition of our greatest president they feel inspired to celebrate visual art and to perpetuate the great American ideals of freedom and justice for all.”
His father was grateful that it is in memory of his wife.
“Just as the mural needs no words to express emotion, neither did my Louise. Her image is our vision of love.”
Clausen, who has painted hundreds of different images of Lincoln, found it appropriate that this mural is being done by a sign company.
“My first job out of college was as a billboard designer,” she said.