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Pillager school mural inspires Husky pride

Created from wet clay brick, the relief in the Pillager Husky mural was hand-car1 / 2
Pillager High School senior Matthew Neururer (left) and art instructor Dan Devin2 / 2

PILLAGER — School pride in Pillager is a little more set in stone nowadays. Or at least set in brick.

An 8-foot by 8-foot Husky red brick mural now stands in the school commons area.

It’s the handiwork of Pillager art teacher Dan Devine and senior Matthew Neururer.

“(The mural) is an important insight to Husky pride,” Devine said.

The 3-D face of the dog has hand-etched fur markings and deep, penetrating eyes. The round nose is modeled after Neururer’s dog at home.

Big, bold letters beneath the creature spell out the main message: “Husky Pride.”

“It enhances the sense of pride we have,” Neururer said. “It shows everyone what we represent.”

Devine’s inspiration for the mural came from working alongside a friend and mentor, Brad Bachmeier.

It was Bachmeier who showed Devine that art could improve a space. And with a new school building, there was plenty of space to use.

So Devine took a quick sketch of his vision to the school board, which gave the green light.

Reality set in, though, when two big pallets of 300 wet bricks showed up, Neururer said.

Brick by brick, cut by cut, the mural slowly began to take shape.

“You could see it come to life,” Devine said.

Once the blocks were stacked, carved and numbered, each had to be baked at 2,200 degrees for two days. Finally they were ready to be placed.

The pair, along with a couple of volunteers now and then, spent the whole summer piecing together the $15,000 project.

The brick material is important, Devine says. It’s an “everlasting” material. Just like the school spirit.

And nearly 180 hours of work later, Neururer and Devine can concentrate more on the legacy they’re leaving behind.

“It will live on past our ages,” Devine said. “My son can walk this school some day and see what his dad made.”

Devine sometimes catches glimpses of the mural during his work day.

“It’s hard to imagine that it was even done,” he said.

Neururer agreed.

“I’m just relieved it’s up,” he said.

The mural has inspired a few more art projects around the building. A Husky painting is in the works spanning across the wall in one of the halls. Soon, a giant Husky paw chair will be formed with the extra bricks from the mural.

Both visitors and husky fans take note of the extra pride around the school, the pair say.

“It’s what we believe in,” Neururer said.

JESSICA LARSEN may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at