Kankakee Mallow and Dahlia Mural, Martinez Tacos

Location: Martinez Tacos, 348 E Station St.

Introducing the vibrant tapestry of nature woven into the heart of our downtown community, the latest Downtown Kankakee mural by artist Katie Bretzlaff is a celebration of botanical rarity and cultural diversity!

Through meticulous artistry and a blend of painting and mosaic techniques, Katie captures not only the visual allure of these blooms but also their rich symbolic meanings. The Kankakee Mallow, once thought extinct, holds deep historical ties with the Potawatomi tribe, while the Dahlia symbolizes the beauty that thrives in our diverse community. Join us on a journey of artistic collaboration and cultural expression as we delve into the creation of this masterpiece, a testament to the talent and passion of Katie Bretzlaff, an esteemed artist and art educator with a profound connection to our community.


Two types of flowers - the Kankakee Mallow and the Dahlia - are the focal points of this mural design, created by Katie Bretzlaff. The Kankakee Mallow is one of the rarest flowers in America, and is not known to grow anywhere else in the world, other than on one island in the Kankakee River - Langham Island in the State Park. Thought to be extinct in recent years, conservation efforts have resulted in the Kankakee Mallow’s reemergence in its native habitat. This flower is not only significant for its botanical significance, but also because it was of high symbolic importance to the Potawatomi tribe who lived in this region. The second type of flower is the Dahlia, which is the National Flower of Mexico, and can also be found gracing local gardens throughout our own community. Flowers were chosen as the subject of this mural in order to celebrate the beauty and growth that comes from a diverse community. This mixed media mural features both painting and mosaic art processes. Mosaics are made by creating a design from different pieces of tesserae, with each piece contributing to the larger design while retaining its individuality and beauty. The artistic processes and collaboration in the creation of this mural also contribute to the overall meaning of the design.


Katie Bretzlaff is an Artist and Art Educator with over two decades of experience. She has earned both masters and bachelors degrees in Art Education, and has taught Art at the high school, college, middle school, and elementary levels. Katie is a practicing artist who enjoys using a variety of media and processes such as painting, photography, mosaics, printmaking, and mixed media. The inspiration for her work comes from nature, literature, current events, memories, color relationships, and texture. She has exhibited her work in local and regional galleries and her work is in several private collections. Katie is the founder of Hedgeapple Arts, an art studio and gallery in Kankakee, which offers a variety of art classes and creative experiences for people of all ages. She has been involved in the community in numerous ways over the years and continues to build community through the arts.


This mural will include both painting and mosaic art processes. The building will be painted in a deep blue-green hue (SW 6496: Oceanside.) The flower petals and leaves will be painted; the centers of each flower will be a mosaic. The mosaics will be created in the studio and will be attached to the wall towards the end of the mural-making process. The image presented above is intended to provide an overview of the concept. This sketch is not to scale, and the design may vary at the discretion of the artist, based on the intricacies of the building and other considerations. Colors presented may vary, based on the variations of colors of tiles and paint.