Nearly five years after the creation of the mural “The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight,” the artist will return this weekend to Joplin for the release of a documentary film, “Called to Walls,” in the wake of his six-state Mid-America Mural Project.

The film screening and question-and-answer session with muralist Dave Lowenstein are set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Central Christian Center, 410 Virginia Ave., and are free to the public.

The "Butterfly Effect" mural is located on the south wall of the Dixie Printing building at 15th and Main streets. Lowenstein and community members met and planned for months before the painting began in the wake of the 2011 EF-5 Joplin tornado that destroyed about a third of town, killing 161 people.

“The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight” is part of Lowenstein’s Mid-America Mural Project that required him to paint a community mural in six states. The Joplin mural shows the history of the town with a painting of George Washington Carver, children sitting at a desk drawing designs that appear in the mural, the chaos of the tornado, and an image of a phoenix flying into the sun.

“I think it’s a remarkable look at the community mural process and how important it is for everyday people to get a chance to tell their stories in public,” Loewenstein said. “That was even more important in the time in Joplin when we were there.”

The film documents four of the cities: Joplin; Tonkawa, Oklahoma; Newton, Kansas; and Arkadelphia, Arkansas. The other cities that were part of the Mid-America Mural Project are Waco, Texas, and Hastings, Nebraska.

Preliminary showings of the documentary were offered in November. The directors made final tweaks and released the film on Feb. 27.

“We thought this weekend would be a good time to have it since everyone is thinking back on May 2011,” said Emily Frankoski, Connect2Culture community arts director. “This is maybe the way that the arts community remembers and kind of meditates on it.” 

Connect2Culture, a Joplin nonprofit organization, has a website with a host of information about art programs, exhibits and more.

“The film, I think, is important because it chronicles that time in history,” she said. “Over time our memories change. I think it's a really respectful way to see the arts contribution to the recovery of Joplin.”

Frankoski, who helped design the mural, said the film shows the power of community-based murals.

Amber Hansen and Nicholas Ward, co-directors of "Called to Walls," were mural assistants at the first community mural project in Oklahoma. They created short clips to document the progress of the mural and then decided to make an entire documentary.

“The reason behind creating the film was how rich of an experience that was for us, and it provoked us to want to document the experience we were having,” Ward said.

Hansen said the name of the documentary was inspired partly by Loewenstein's call to do this sort of work after seeing himself in a community-based mural book and partly by the things walls represent — dividers, protective barriers and connectors — and what it means to put imagery on walls.

The film captures the stories of the murals while they were happening. After the murals were done, Hansen and Ward returned to the towns of the murals for more interviews.

Ward said the film exemplifies the way a process like the one Loewenstein uses can serve to help a community successfully tell its story.

Turnout hopes

Emily Frankoski, Connect2Culture community arts director, said that about 60 people turned out for the preliminary showing of "Called to Walls" last November. She said she is hoping for a much larger turnout for Saturday's afternoon's showing.

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