TABOR — Tabor is on the cusp of celebrating 150 years of incorporation next year, but the town is already hard at work on a visual representation of the city’s heritage in the form of a mural on the north exterior wall of the Tabor Public Library building.
The mural has been commissioned as a joint venture by the Tabor Development Corporation, the Town of Tabor and the Tabor Chamber of Commerce.
Mark Povondra, treasurer for the Tabor Development Corporation, told the Press & Dakotan that the process began earlier this year.
“About March or April, the CorTrust Bank staff in Tabor approached me about possibly have a mural painted on to the library building,” he said. “The view out of their drive-up window was of this library building, which needed some sprucing up. It was just a red brick building.”
From there, he took the idea to the full Tabor Development Corporation.
“We brought this up and discussed that it would be a beautification project for the town,” he said. “We got approval from the town board about a month or so later.”
With an idea in mind, all that was missing was an artist to design and paint the mural.
Enter Bon Homme County-native Robbie Jelsma.
In addition to playing football at South Dakota State University and working for an engineering firm for a time, Jelsma has also possessed a love of art since he was young.
“I’d always done art on the side since my childhood and through college,” he told the Press & Dakotan. “I just never took it as seriously until I got out of college. When I was working at that job, I was doing art more, just on the side. A few years ago, I moved back to South Dakota, bought my grandparents’ farm and now I do art full time.”
Operating as Portfolio 51, Jelsma works in a number of different mediums, including tattoos, canvas paintings and murals.
It was an old high school friend who helped him take on the Tabor mural.
“Mark Povondra with the (Tabor Development Corporation) reached out to me,” Jelsma said. “I went to high school with him. He contacted me and let me know that it was Tabor’s 150th anniversary coming up this spring. He asked me if I wanted to paint a mural — a collage of the history of Tabor with sports, Czech Days and all that.”
Having completed murals in places such as Brookings, Sioux Falls and Redfield, Jelsma said he’s no stranger to larger projects.
“The one I did in Redfield was fairly large — it was a larger barn-type building,” he said. “The most recent one in Sioux Falls on 41st St. isn’t quite as large, but it’s probably about 70% the size of this one.”
The mural is set to represent a number of facets of Tabor’s heritage, including baseball, a cardinal (the former Tabor High School mascot), Czech Days — complete with a Czech Days Princess and kolaches — among other elements.
Jelsma started the mural at the beginning of the month and, pending good weather, hopes to finish by late next week.
Though not a Tabor native, he said it’s meaningful to work on a project that’s a bit closer to home than some previous murals.
“It’s cool doing them in Sioux Falls where a lot of people see them, but doing something back home is always a little more special,” he said. “In these small towns, you don’t see things like this that often, so to make a new landmark for the town is pretty cool.”
Povondra said he also believes the mural will add a lot to Tabor.
“It’s a really great concept for the town,” he said. “It’ll add an additional attraction for us, not only for throughout the year but also for Czech Days. It’s going to give some vibrancy to that building, and it’s going to be a nice attraction for us.”
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