The once empty brick wall alongside Alexandria’s VFW now pops with red, white and blue.
Artist Tracy Anderson painted a mural that was installed at the VFW June 8. Due to COVID-19, the dedication was postponed three times and is now set for Tuesday, July 14, at 3:30 p.m.
The inspiration for the painting came from Anderson’s brother who is a veteran. He asked her to paint something involving healing for PTSD.
“As I was doing that, I’m like, ‘You know, I would like to be able to help veterans like my brother,’” Anderson said.
The end result titled “Freedom For All” depicts all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Anderson included all races and genders, and there’s a guardian angel and an American flag woven into the piece.
“It was my way of giving back,” Anderson said.
VFW officer Ralph Berg said there had been conversations surrounding the idea of a mural installation for years because of similar works at VFW locations around the country.
“Something really bright and military-like and something honoring our soldiers there on the wall of the VFW,” Berg said. “It took a lot of time to finally come up with a real brilliant idea, and it just worked real quickly.”
Anderson then asked Jeff Roste from Creative Impact Design to work with her painting and design a mural that would fit the space.
“I think everybody was very well-pleased with the outcome,” Roste said.
“Freedom For All” is located on the outer wall of the VFW facing downtown. Roste said drivers will be able to see it when they drive on County Road 82 toward Osakis.
Anderson has an Etsy account where people can purchase variations of the mural, such as posters and photo canvas prints. Twelve percent of the profits are donated to provide counseling that Veterans Affairs doesn’t cover.
In addition to painting, Anderson is an interior designer, teacher and author. This piece was one of her first collages, as she focuses on oil portraits.
“We all want to leave our mark and make a difference in the world,” Anderson’s artist statement says. “I may not be able to help everyone with my gift, but I can start with one.”