I follow Wallpapered City on social media, and when I saw they were curating several murals in downtown Janesville, I knew a trip was in order. Mural festivals have been canceled like everything else this year, so I was ecstatic. More importantly, it would renew my family history.
Fun fact — Janesville was named after my mother’s side of the family and there’s a plaque to prove it. Specifically, Henry F. Janes arrived in the area in 1836 and bought a log cabin. Henry wanted to name the village “Blackhawk” after the famous Sauk Indian tribe leader, Chief Black Hawk. The officials at the post office weren’t fond of his name choice and decided to use his last name, hence the official name of Janesville. Much of the Janes family still resides in the area and they typically hold an annual family reunion.
I sniffed out a local brewery in the heart of downtown, which is where my adventure began. Rock County Brewing has a cool, garage-style setup for ordering, which is convenient during “mask season.” They also have an attractive outdoor seating area that is nicely spaced out with plenty of tables. The brewery doesn’t have a food menu, but food trucks are often on-site.
Unique beer offerings
Rock County’s beer offerings are unique with many tempting choices. I settled on a Maple Elevation (a mapley, strong, caramelly brown ale) and Moonlight & Rapture (Russian Imperial Stout that is strong, roasty, and dark). These brews were so tasty that I did a quick return visit to try an intriguing beer that isn’t my typical style. Black & Blue Cobbler is a pastry sour brewed with black and blueberries. I didn’t notice much sour and it had the right amount of sweet. I look forward to future taste testing at this brewery.
Art Infusion delivers!
Let’s get this mural party started. Art Infusion is an annual event that takes place in early September (mark your calendar for next year). The murals are all in the downtown area within a few blocks of one another. This year is a first for painted murals, as the talented chalk artists have always taken over the streets. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see any chalk artistry; however, I look forward to that next year.
The muralists and their work
Jessie Willyerd and Tim Cahill – 37 S. Main St.
Stephanie Krellwitz – 60 S. Main St.
Bigshot Robot – 215 W. Milwaukee St.
*Featured artist* Jeff Henriquez – 101 E. Milwaukee St.
In addition to this work of art, Jeff painted a mural of Black Hawk in 2019. You can find this gorgeous piece at 29 S. Main St.
Unexpected WOW moment
I made a second trip to Janesville to see Jeff’s new piece “In History We Trust,” as it took several weeks to complete. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw he was still there. Jeff made time for a chat including some history behind the mural. He shared the symbolism in the mural, representing Native and African-Americans. He painted the Native American to represent women and how they are the rock, the sunrise represents a new day, and the window is a reference to the underground railroad. The beautiful wood violets are the state flower.
I was thrilled when Jeff decided to photobomb my selfie in front of these beauties.
Jeff would love to paint Chicago
Jeff hails from New Jersey, and for the most part, has painted along the east coast. He would love to paint some art in Chicago, so please hit him up if you would like to collaborate or offer him a wall. What a gift it would be for Chicago, as his work is stunning and meticulous.
Don’t forget to lookup
Since my eyes are constantly shifting, I couldn’t help but notice that Janesville has some remarkable architecture. Check out the Janesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, as they will give you everything you need to know about your visit. You have plenty of time to prepare for next year’s Art Infusion, but that shouldn’t stop you from planning a trip now to explore the art and beer scene. And, it’s less than two hours away, perfect for a fall getaway.