RIVER FALLS — The educational message “Keep trash out of the picture” is now artfully displayed outside the River Falls Public Library along with a colorful design of freshwater fish and reptiles.

River Falls High School art teacher Taylor Berman mentored River Falls High School student Michael Butel while designing and creating this storm water drain art piece. Using artist-grade acrylic spray paint, the two went to work on images of trout, turtles and other local fish silhouettes which were inspirations from River Falls Elementary students' initial design sketches. The design centers around the drain outside the River Falls Public Library's community room entrance. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia
River Falls High School art teacher Taylor Berman mentored River Falls High School student Michael Butel while designing and creating this storm water drain art piece. Using artist-grade acrylic spray paint, the two went to work on images of trout, turtles and other local fish silhouettes which were inspirations from River Falls Elementary students' initial design sketches. The design centers around the drain outside the River Falls Public Library's community room entrance. Rachel Helgeson / RiverTown Multimedia

City groups, educators and artists joined efforts to create this outdoor art piece which reminds passersby to do their part to maintain the health of the Kinnickinnic watershed and local waterways.

Plans for the art project, which was designed in part by River Falls Elementary students, began with an application for funds from Rain to Rivers in April 2019.

The educational campaign called Rain to Rivers… Wise Choices for Cleaner Waters promotes clean bodies of water throughout western Wisconsin.

Rain to Rivers funded $1,000 of the $2,321 project. The remaining funds were donated by River Falls Community Arts base, Powerful Choices community group and City of River Falls Stormwater Utility Budget.

Designs for the art piece were inspired by the imaginations of fourth graders from River Falls Elementary. Taylor Berman, a River Falls High School art teacher and local artist, mentored River Falls High School student Michael Butel throughout the project after compiling the designs from the elementary students.

Taylor Berman, River Falls High School art teacher and local artist, crouches to work on the 100 square feet of sidewalk canvas using stencils and artist-grade spray paint in the early stages of the process. Berman was chosen as the lead artist for this project through word-of-mouth and connecting with Nikki Feldmeier, River Falls High School biology instructor, who proposed the project to Rain to Rivers for funds. Photo courtesy of Mike Noreen
Taylor Berman, River Falls High School art teacher and local artist, crouches to work on the 100 square feet of sidewalk canvas using stencils and artist-grade spray paint in the early stages of the process. Berman was chosen as the lead artist for this project through word-of-mouth and connecting with Nikki Feldmeier, River Falls High School biology instructor, who proposed the project to Rain to Rivers for funds. Photo courtesy of Mike Noreen

Butel, who graduates from high school in 2021, said this was his first time working with Berman on public art and he hopes to do more for River Falls which may include painting utility boxes.

The spray paint used for the sidewalk art should last about five years before major wear would begin to show, Berman said, but the professional acrylic spray paint is manufactured to last up to 15 years.