Deaneal McAfoos paints the mural at 808 Main Street in Alton.ALTON - A new mural will beautify Alton, but there’s a deeper meaning behind it for the owners of the building.

Located at 808 Main Street in Alton, the mural is being painted at the location of the former McAfoos Sign, which currently serves as a mechanic shop and urban farm. Deaneal McAfoos is painting the mural in honor of her father-in-law, Dwight, the McAfoos patriarch who passed away in 2022. Their family hopes the new art will brighten the area while honoring their father.

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“It’s a happy space,” Deaneal said. “This is now a happy space where people will be loving to drive by.”

Deaneal is relatively new to mural painting, but she has loved every minute of it. Last summer, she painted a mural on her garage door back in Washington, Missouri, and she was pleasantly surprised by how big of a difference it made in her neighborhood. She has enjoyed the new challenge of painting a bigger mural in Alton, especially one that serves as a “bright, beautiful tribute.”

Dwight’s son Robert, who owns the building, said he is excited about the new art. The mural features several flowers, painted to look like gears to represent the mechanic shop.

The pink flowers are also a nod to Robert’s daughter Lucille, who will help Deaneal fingerpaint more flowers at the bottom of the mural in the next few days. Julie, Dwight’s daughter, will paint a silhouette of a man in the corner of the mural, meant to signify Dwight himself.

Dwight was the owner of McAfoos Sign. He hand-painted every sign he ever made. Julie explained that Dwight would use a projector to outline the shapes on the signs, and she was overjoyed when she found out Deaneal planned to do the same thing for the mural.

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“That's just honoring the way that he did things,” Julie said, adding that she shared a “soul connection” with her father and misses him very much.

The family explained that Dwight was well-known in the community. People would often come to McAfoos Sign simply to “shoot the breeze” and chat with Dwight about their lives. Most of these people “needed to be heard, and he was a good listener.”

“In his later years, when he wasn’t able to do as much, he’d still walk around the neighborhood and pick up trash,” Robert added. “I feel like the mural is as much a gift to the neighborhood as it is to the property itself, because there’s been so many people stopping by and they’re very excited. I think that's right in line with the kind of thing he did in his later years. Spread beauty, keep things nice.”

Robert joked that Dwight was “a pretty humble guy,” and he’d probably object to the silhouette in the mural that’s meant to represent him. But the family can’t help but include this tribute to the man they all loved so much.

While it hasn’t been easy to paint the mural, it’s been worth it. Deaneal laughed as she shared that there is a beehive on the roof of the building, and she was stung in face on day one. She has spent many hours in the hot sun projecting and painting the mural onto the side of the building. But she explained that it’s an honor to be trusted with such an important tribute, and she has enjoyed the experience and sharing it with her family.

“It changes the way an area feels. I don’t think I ever really realized that,” Deaneal added. “It’s bright and cheerful. I just think that this is going to make such a change of feel for the whole area…and honor what was here and all the good that was.”

The mural will be completed in a few days.

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