Langston Allston, an incoming senior at the University of Illinois who grew up in Champaign, wants to leave a legacy before he graduates.
URBANA — Langston Allston, an incoming senior at the University of Illinois who grew up in Champaign, wants to leave a legacy before he graduates.
He wants to inspire others as well, said his friend and collaborator, Tim Chao, co-owner of the Neutral Cycle Workshop, an independent bicycle outfitter and repair shop in Urbana.
Toward that end, Allston has begun painting a mural on the brick wall in the alley alongside the Courier Cafe in downtown Urbana. So far, it depicts the town's bicycle culture, in particular paying tribute to Paul's Bicycle Shop, which once was behind the Courier.
Allston plans to add to the giant mural more details of Urbana's history. He's now trying to raise money to help him complete the project.
He's doing that the way many young people do when they want to start a business or do a project — via Kickstarter. The online platform gives artists and others complete control over and responsibility for their projects.
When people like one, they can pledge money via Kickstarter to make it happen. Allston's Kickstarter page at http://kck.st/11PYz8Q  has a video of him working on the mural, plus text telling about it and why he needs money:
"Painting can be expensive. We need to buy paint, scaffolding and ladders, brushes and rollers. If we're going to complete this project at the professional level that Urbana deserves, we have to collect professional quality materials."
As of Friday afternoon, Allston's Downtown Mural Project 2013 page had nine backers, pledging $835 in total. People who pledge don't have to pony up unless the project reaches its goal of $2,500 in pledges by 1:11 p.m. July 10.
"All-or-nothing funding might seem scary, but it's amazingly effective in creating momentum and rallying people around an idea. To date, an impressive 44 percent of projects have reached their funding goals," reads the Kickstarter home page.
A painting major at the UI, Allston — a son of Great Impasta restaurant owners Harold Allston and Nancy Yeagle — said on his Kickstarter page that besides telling stories of Urbana's past, the mural is about "giving the vibrant young community in the area a voice."
Allston first used white chalk to sketch out his idea and then painted in the outlines, using exterior paint.
He hopes to eventually paint murals on the entire south wall of the alley. First, though, he would have to receive permission from business owners to remove the ivy on part of the walls.
"I'm definitely going to try to push it as far down as possible, if I find people willing to collaborate," the 21-year-old artist said.