An Artist's Twist of Fate: From McDonald's to Living Her Own American Dream

When Julie Boman was a little girl, she decided to express herself artistically -- by drawing a horse on her parents' marriage certificate.

She was in a heap of trouble from the act of childhood mischief, but it proved to be prophetic. Today, Boman is one of three full-time artists in the carousel studio at Chance Rides -- America's largest amusement-ride maker just outside Wichita, Kansas. She paints horses, tigers and dolphins -- even mythical creatures like jackalopes -- for the ride that has been the center of carnivals for more than a century.

Boman, who is self-taught, paints gorgeous animals every vibrant hue of the rainbow, then embellishes them with final touches like jewels and lace. Carousels take an average of three months to assemble, with a single animal taking between 80 and 110 hours to build and decorate.

She also painstakingly adds detail to the center panels of a carousel, inspired by everything from famous works of art to travel photos she spots in magazines. It's that imagination that landed her a job at Chance 15 years ago.

After seeing a mural Boman painted in her church's basement, a fellow parishioner told her boss at a local McDonald's about Boman's artistic skills. He hired Boman to paint murals at a few of his Wichita franchises. "It was my first paying job as an artist," Boman says.

A family friend, who worked at Chance, saw her work at McDonald's and came to pay Boman a visit one Sunday afternoon. He asked her a question that ended up changing her life: "How would you like to paint carousel animals?"

Boman knows she's lucky to work as an artist in Kansas. "Everyone told me, you better get a backup, you can't do art for a living," she says. "I never thought this would be reality."

But Boman says that Chance being family owned makes all the difference in her work. Both Mike and Dick stop by the studio on a regular basis and Mike often brings his 6-year-old son Carter by on Saturdays to visit the animals. "Oh, he loves carousels," Boman says.

"If you had a corporate board running the company, they'd be focused on the profit and having all of this made in Mexico or China," she says. "And they could have all of this done for less [money]. It's nice to have bosses who let you focus on quality."

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Wichita is very proud to have Chance's here. They are a good company and a wonderful family. Kansas gets such a negative rep at times and it is wonderful to know that one of our companies gives so much joy to people all over.!

June 08 2014 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They make those wooden ponies for merry-go-gos in Garden Grove, Calif by hand and also all hand paint--no spray.

June 07 2014 at 10:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was a pioneer of the cable business,started in 1964, thirty one years and I've never seen anything of earth improving substance. It would be good for the nation and it's people, for it and tv to go the way of the buggy whip. But of course that will never happen. Too few humans have a life of their own. Sad.

June 07 2014 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew since you ran this same story 3 weeks ago!

June 07 2014 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You didn't build that!

June 07 2014 at 4:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i knew it existed, i lived just down the street from it when i was a child. you dont find many places like this anymore in the usa... wichita kansas

June 07 2014 at 4:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steven Arnett

It's not just Ford trucks. All the manufacturer's are mighty proud of thier truck's. Go on Chevy, Gmc, Dodge or Ford and use thier "build it now" program. Anything besides a "work" truck is going to be 30, 40, 50k!

June 07 2014 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good for her.

June 07 2014 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cloran Khwikball

Julie right on. I feel your dedication and thank you for all you've done and hard work building and representing America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! America Manufacturing & Producing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KHWIKBALL.COM Scott Cloran, Inventor AMERICAN KHWIKBALL MANUFACTURING - AMERICAN JOBS - REBUILDING & STRENGTHENING AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 07 2014 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AOL seems to think that no one is able to read anymore, and everyone prefers to watch an ad like on TV before watching there program. When will AOL pick up on the idea like TV? Make all of you morons watch 5 or 6 ad's before there answer to there news flash question is answered??? Watch, it's just a matter of time and getting used to it.

June 07 2014 at 12:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply