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Walldogs were/are mural artists who paint external signs and murals used as advertisements throughout the United States throughout the 1900s. In more recent history the name "Walldog" has been adopted by many wall sign & mural painters who keep up the old traditions in spite of the advent of technology including international group of sign and mural artists who have had several mural painting events in cities and towns throughout the United States (although there have been events in Australia & Canada).
The Original Walldogs
The term walldog originally was considered derogatory, referring to mural painters from around the 1890s through the mid 1900s. These artists would paint advertisements on billboards and walls in many towns and cities. Many of these murals still survive today in the form of ghost signs. These artists were known for working like "dogs" through the heat of the summer sometimes in very perilous conditions.
The Beginnings of Modern Walldog Movement
In the early 1990s a group of sign artists known as the Letterheads had become interested in preserving signpainting techniques of the past. One of these artists, Nancy Bennett, decided to have an event to paint murals in downtown Allerton, Iowa. The event was billed as a "Walldog Meet."
Cities and towns request a Walldog meet either through the walldog website or directly through artists associated with the modern walldog movement. The meet is usually organized by a committee of representatives from the town and a walldog event host. The committee, with the help of the event host, will select locations for all of the murals, get permissions from building owners and arrange any prep work that needs to be done prior to the meet.
Each of the murals has a leader or small team of leaders, selected by the event host. These project leaders oversee the design of the mural and guarantee its completion. The towns' hosting these meets typically find local families who are willing to allow the artists to stay in their home for the meet. Towns also usually feed the artists most of their meals throughout the event.
The murals usually portray something of historical importance to the town that they are contained in. Many of the murals focus on either famous people or events from the town's past or on historic businesses that no longer exist.
List of Past Walldog Events
|Event Location||Event Name||Date|
|Allerton, IA||Walldog Daze||July 30-Aug. 1 1993|
|Kenlake, KY||WallDog Blooze||1995|
|Belvidere, IL||WallDog Rendezvous||June 20–22, 1997|
|Kenlake, KY||WallDog DeZsaZsaVoo||1999|
|Vinton, IA||Vinton Harvest of Walls||2000|
|Butler, PA||Jill's Krazy 8 Meet||2000|
|Morpeth, NSW||Indian Root Pills||April 29–30, 2000|
|Portland, NSW||Wallnuts Weekend||Oct 19-21 2001|
|Cornwall, ONT||International Walldog Jam||June 7–10, 2001|
|Chippewa Falls, WI||Chippewa Brush Bash||Aug. 1-3, 2002|
|Mars, PA||International Letterheads on Mars||Aug. 22-24, 2002|
|Atlanta, IL||Letter Rip on Rt. 66||July 11–13, 2003|
|Lincoln, IL||Land of Lincoln Walldogs||July 21–24, 2004|
|Mazeppa, MN||Mazeppa Muster||July 5–9, 2005|
|Aledo, IL||Western Illinois Wall Bash||Sep 15-18 2005|
|Canaan, CT||Canaan Walldog Meet||Sep 15-18 2005|
|Lodi, CA||Head West Walldogs||May 26–29, 2006|
|Jacksonville, IL||Jacksonville Walldog Extravaganza||June 22–25, 2006|
|Chippewa Falls, WI||Chippewa Brush Bash 2||Aug. 4-6, 2006|
|Algoma, WI||Walldog Wave||June 21–23, 2007|
|Minneapolis, MN||WallDogs on Nicollet||July 24–27, 2008|
|Pontiac, IL||Chief City Runs With The Dogs||June 25–28, 2009|
|Danville, IL||Danville is Dog Gone Dandy||August 5–8, 2010|
|Plymouth, WI||The Walldgs Rock the Cheese Capital||June 22-26, 2011|
Also, In 2012, Seattle was the site of MURAL CAMP where student artists were taught some of the old tricks of the trade while painting "The History and Legends of American Music" a 100' mural on the side of downtown building. lead by walldog Don Rockwell
In May 2010 Pontiac, Illinois opened a museum in honor of the Walldogs and their contribution to Pontiac. The International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum focuses on the appreciation and preservation of painted signs and mural advertisements.