AUGUSTA — In celebration of the Franco-American club’s 90th anniversary last year, Le Club Calumet members decided to mark the history of the club in a big way.

They commissioned a 33-by-10 1/2 foot mural, to be created on the rear wall of the stage in the main function room, and hired three artists to design and paint it. The assignment was to depict the club’s history and community participation for almost a century.

On a hot, humid Sunday afternoon, Corliss Chastain, Lisa Lancaster and Jane Burke gathered to continue their work on the club’s showpiece. Two ladders, dozens of pots of acrylic and latex paint, a yardstick and other items were arranged on the stage.

The artwork is more than half complete with the center yet to be filled in.

Through a series of archways — illustrating the club’s protection of the French culture — topped by two fleur-de-lis, the mural offers a glimpse into the club’s past and present: the 1922 founding, a former club hall on Kendall Street, a cross rising above St. Augustine School, the current club home on West River Road, and more.

St. Augustine Church has yet to be defined atop Sand Hill in the piece.

Bates Mill, the employer for many of the club’s early members, was included as well as many other buildings.

The people, brightly colored and almost life-size figures in the foreground, capture the eye: a trio of musicians performing fiddle, washboard and accordion, Little League players wearing their Calumet Club-sponsor uniforms, a young girl in the white blouse and blue plaid uniform of St. Augustine School peeking around a corner, and two women striding into the club as full members in 2005.

The parts yet to be painted recall Les Festival de la Bastille, the Calumet Club Education Foundation, and the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care and MaineGeneral Medical Center’s new regional hospital, both of which the club supported.

“We couldn’t capture everything because there’s been so much done over the years,” said Don White, chairman of the club’s financial committee, who helped foster the idea. “We have only selected a few, but hopefully it is to recognize how the 24 founding fathers started and how far it has come within our community and within its membership of which we are over 900 plus.”

The original design was submitted months ago after talking with club members.

“They gave us a book about the club,” Chastain said. Additions were suggested, and even now changes are incorporated.

The site needed to be prepared as well.

To ready such a large canvas, the wallpaper had to be scraped, two large doors removed, a bingo board had to be repositioned, and outlets had to be relocated.

Despite three dedicated artists on the job, the artwork takes time, particularly because they can only paint when the function room is not in use.

When they work together, the talk is almost nonstop and the music loud, Lancaster said.

“It’s comical,” said Jane Burke, of Augusta. “We sing.”

Burke is used to large projects, such as murals and ceilings, some of which involve working with other artists.

Lisa Lancaster, of Augusta, is a fine arts student at the University of Maine at Augusta, where Corliss Chastain, of Portland, teaches.

Chastain, who formerly lived in Hallowell, taught art at Maranacook Community School as well. Chastain has largely done the people and Burke and Lancaster the stone walls and buildings, with Burke hand-lettering numbers and words.

So far, hundreds of hours of work have gone into the mural. The club has scheduled an unveiling Sept. 12, but the artists say the mural might not be complelely finished.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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