BILLINGS- The 2,000 square foot Rise and Shine Mural is finished after more than 1,000 hours of work spread over 100 days. The mural is on the 6th St W underpass in Billings.
Artist Elyssa Leininger said, "I really wanted to focus on the Yellowstone Valley right here in Billings and focus on the landscape surrounding Billings that is recognizable, as well as the animals that once inhabited the area."
"My goal for this mural was to make a difference in just one person's day," said Leininger. "And, from the beginning I could see that that was already happening, just from all of the hundreds of random acts of kindness that I've received, the thousands of honks and waves and shouts. And, just the community supporting it and being proud of it."
She added, "A lot of people brought me coffee, homemade salsa. They handed me tacos out the window."
Forty-five volunteers also helped paint the mural. Work on the mural began in August 2020 after the South Side Neighborhood Task Force received a grant to fund the project.
On the second to last day of painting, Leininger's car was broken into, as well as her mother's car. A window was smashed out in both cars and items were taken.
Leininger said she quickly received support from the Billings Police and the community.
Leininger said, "Sergeant Reid came and sat with me while I finished up painting for the night. He watched out for the vehicles, looked out for me, made sure I was safe. I've never once been concerned for my safety here, but that was a little nerve-wracking seeing glass everywhere."
A couple of days later, a woman whom Leininger didn't know, organized a Go Fund Me. Since then, Leininger said enough money has been raised to replace the damage to the vehicles and replace the stolen items.
If you are interested in doing a scavenger hunt at the mural, directions from Leininger can be found here.