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RACINE - Local artist Bill Reid was in mid-sentence, calmly gazing at the street in front of the Wustum Museum of Fine Art when he stopped short.

"Oh my God. There it is!" he exclaimed, letting out a nervous giggle and moving his hand to his chin in thought. "It looks pretty good."

Reid's eyes were locked on his latest artistic creation, a van that now boasted two of his paintings, blown up and adhered to the van's sides. Reid designed the paintings for Wustum and the Racine Art Museum's new RAM on the Road program, which will have art teachers taking the van, loaded with art materials, to schools, day cares and senior centers for free art classes, projects and exhibits.

"It's about wanting to get art in the community more and expose people to art enrichment activities in order to encourage them to come to the museum for classes and to tour the exhibits and just to enrich their lives," said Tricia Blasko, curator of education for RAM and Wustum. She said RAM's education committee came up with the RAM on the Road idea and donations from community members and area organization made it a reality.

The RAM on the Road van was unveiled Sunday at Wustum, 2519 Northwestern Ave., where a crowd of about 40 people, including Blasko and Reid, eagerly awaited its arrival. As the van pulled into Wustum's parking lot, the onlookers cheered and clapped.

"This makes me wanna go home and paint my car," said Ann Henkes, of Racine, a 56-year-old art teacher at Gifford Elementary School. "Anybody would be excited when they see that thing drive up."

The van is primarily bright blue and green with lots of other colors mixed in. One side depicts Wustum while RAM is on the other side, exactly as Reid planned.

"The RAM side is more artistic type things," said Reid, a Racine sculptor and painter. "I wanted the Wustum part to show lots of the activities they do, lots of creatures doing art, plus it features Racine things - the Lighthouse, the Johnson Wax buildings, Case tractors, Golden Books. It's kind of about the history of Racine."

Reid put those elements into two about four feet by two feet paintings. The paintings were then digitally photographed, blown up and transferred to plastic sheets then stuck to the van much like designs are stuck to city buses, Reid said.

He stood Sunday next to the van as the crowd dissipated, getting a last look at the vehicle that once existed only in his mind.

"I think it's great bringing art to the people," he said.

Anyone interested in having the RAM on the Road van visit their organization should call RAM at (262) 636-9177 and ask for Blasko.


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