SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s now some more color in downtown Sioux Falls.
Artist Walter Portz said he’s been working 12 to 16 hour days since Wednesday, mostly night hours to beat the heat. Portz, who also created a mural near Levitt at the Falls earlier this summer, is aiming to finish his biggest project yet by Sept. 12. You can see some of the progress of the project in the photos below.
“I’ll probably transition to days this week because it’s going to be much cooler out and at night it might actually be a bit chilly up there,” Portz told KELOLAND News. “I’m right about where I want to be.”
Painting business 605 Painting primed the 72-foot south wall last week before Portz started using colored paint late Wednesday night. In total, the mural covers 42,000 square feet and the work is being funded by a $30,000 gift from Marketbeat to the Washington Pavilion.
Portz said he typically paints in 4-6 hour stints for around 12 to 16 hours a day.
“It’s physically taxing,” Portz said. “It’s fun to watch each section kind of come along and work my way across from right to left for the most part on the higher stuff. It’s definitely fulfilling.”
Over the Labor Day weekend, Portz said he painted until he ran out of colored paint. He said he started with 10 gallons of each color and ran out of paint for three colors. He said he’s not bothered by working at 70-foot heights and listens to audiobooks while painting.
“I’m just plugging away at it,” Portz said. “(Sunday night) I kind of ran into a wall physically. My body was like ‘OK, you need a night off.’ At midnight last night, I called it.”
In the painting, you’ll find iconic Sioux Falls landmarks like the cathedral and the clock tower. Portz said when the mural was announced he wanted the mural to be “something bright and accessible to everyone.”
City officials are also hoping one of the state’s largest murals will drum up interest in the parking ramp that was built in 2020 and was originally proposed to be a 15-story complex until the development agreement was terminated in 2019.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said last month the mural shows the city is not giving up on the downtown property.
“Obviously the end goal is to have a development on this property,” TenHaken said Aug. 16. “That will happen when the market is ready for it to happen and interest rates, inflation, the development climate is different than it was even a couple years ago.”