JOPLIN, Mo. —
An artistic, panoramic trend is catching on around Joplin: Murals.
Four different murals are planned for spots along Main Street, and work on two of them will be featured during next week's Third Thursday.
"By the end of the year, we could organize mural tours," said Tricia Patton, executive director of Downtown Joplin Alliance. "It happened by accident, but because they have been executed well, people are seeing that they can do murals, too."
Though Joplin's City Hall has long been the home of a classic mural, "Joplin at the Turn of the Century, 1896-1996" by Thomas Hart Benton, only recently has the city seen a surge of murals. The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce has a cultural affairs committee that has funded and planned several of them, including an outdoor mural at 15th and Main streets and a mural painted by Benton's grandson, Anthony Benton Gude.
An out-of-code billboard at Covert Electric Supply on North Main Street will be converted into a massive welcome sign.
Art students from Missouri Southern State University will begin work on the mural during Third Thursday.
Already, more than a hundred students have worked on planning the mural and getting feedback, said Burt Bucher, associate professor of art at MSSU. A mock painting has been completed and students will begin work in earnest on Thursday, scraping old ads from the billboard and preparing the surface for paint.
Excitement for the project is running high, he said.
"We really haven't advertised our involvement on this," Bucher said. "But we're getting all kinds of people asking about helping with the mural. There's a buzz about what's going on."
The roughly 20-by-110-foot area will be covered with at least 50 gallons of special paint designed to withstand fading and degrading, Bucher said.
Painters will apply a design that features George Spiva gesturing toward downtown buildings. Images of Union Depot and Spiva Center for the Arts can be seen in the background, along with the message, "Welcome to downtown."
Many people were considered as subjects for the mural, but Spiva's contribution to Joplin's arts scene was too important, Bucher said.
"We tossed around a lot of ideas; some of the pillars of the community we thought were important to the creation of the town," Bucher said. "But as a cultural entity, it's Spiva for us. He's contributed significantly to the arts in Joplin."
Phoenix Fired Art has begun work on creating a large ceramic mural at the corner of the strip mall where its studio is located.
Called "Rise of the Phoenix," it will include a triptych featuring the artistic process of creating pottery, from preparing the clay to finishing the glaze.
Pieces of pottery will be made and cut in half so they can be applied to the mural. The mural, which will measure 4 by 16 feet, will be created and designed by Trent Talley, who has taught at the Walton Arts Center and is featured in Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Talley and the plan for the mural will be featured during Third Thursday events. The gallery is located at 1603 S. Main St.
A Kickstarter funding drive has also been launched for the mural. More information is available on the gallery's Facebook page.
Two other murals
Murals are also under development for two other locations:
- Fresh off the completion of the Dancing with the Joplin Stars fundraiser, the cultural arts committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce will install a mural at Eighth and Main streets, on the side of Corner Greer Architects.
- A mural with a theme of Route 66 will be put up at Seventh and Main streets, at Pearl Brothers True Value Hardware. Paul Whitehill, of Images in Tile, will collaborate on the mural, Patton said. It will feature a three-dimensional replica of a historic car that people can pose with.
Other activities during Third Thursday include:
- A demonstration of recycling services planned for last month's canceled event will be featured. Recycle Joplin, organized by Young Professionals Network, will feature Art Feeds, CMC Recycling, Joplin Schools Fashion Class, Greentown Joplin, Mrs. Smith's second-grade class from Stapleton Elementary, Recycling Center Habitat for Humanity and CART.
- Dave Spiller and the Rhatigan Brothers will perform on the north stage, located at 106 S. Main St.
- The performing arts stage at Joplin Public Library will feature an opening ceremony, Chloe Blotter, Karen's Dance Studio, Joplin Little Theatre and Olivia Wu.
- The folk band Aaron and the Licksnatchers will be featured at Sixth and Main streets.
- Members of Midwest Regional Ballet will host an open rehearsal of their upcoming production "Cats," including an aerial ballet demonstration.