The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 12, 2013

Wonder walls: Four new murals planned for Main Street

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.

Downtown greeting

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."

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