Repaint the town

Artists create murals to revamp downtown


Photo by submitted photo

Family members help add finishing touches to Danielle Hamblett’s mural. More murals are expected to be painted downtown by the end of the year.

Story by Peyton Sims, culture editor

People pose in front of the brightly colored murals that engulf downtown Texarkana. Teenagers post pictures across social media, allowing the popularity of the murals continue to grow. This year, more than five murals were created one paint stroke at a time by artists who set aside time to enhance their town.  

An alley called Kress Gap was reserved downtown for new paintings to be implemented. The first painting in this area was revealed in February. There are three other murals that were completed not far behind the first, and more are yet to be painted. 

“A panel of people from the Arts & Historic District committee looked over all of the designs submitted and chose their favorites, and mine made the cut. We submitted our design to the city. We also submitted a proposal and what supplies we would need and their cost,” painter of the geometric mural Danielle Hamblett said. “I’m actually not a painter at all, I’m a graphic designer. In high school, my bedroom walls were plastered with fashion spreads, ads and album covers I liked.”

In the summer of 2018, the city called for artists that were interested in submitting ideas for downtown murals. It was posted on Facebook and published in the newspaper, so numerous artists submitted their ideas with no hesitation. Each mural took days of planning before they could even begin to start painting. 

“My original design had a blank white box in the center, but I ended up leaving that out.  I knew I wanted it to be neutral. I picked geometric shapes because it could be pulled off fairly easy, especially since it was my first time to attempt anything like this,” Hamblett said. “To choose colors, I eyeballed what I liked with Lowe’s paint swatches and tried out combinations until I was happy.”

Texarkana has recently been growing its art district within the past year. For instance, Old Bringle has recently been revamped into an Art Park where local artists and community members have painted over 33 sidewalk spaces and have replaced graffiti with paintings. Since February, over five murals have been painted downtown, and the city is still on the lookout for artists who they believe could create another high quality mural. 

“I’ve been painting my whole life, but I became serious about making it a career in high school. The mural on Broad Street is my largest mural to date, but I am starting an even larger one across from the Perot Theatre later this month,” artist of the “Shine Bright” mural Jes Weiner said. “With my first mural, I submitted a couple of designs, and the city chose one. This next one was commissioned by the city and I’m being paid to do it. I will be painting a portrait, and I chose someone I admire.”

The planning process of a mural is one of the more time consuming steps that plays a major role in the appeal factor. The artist has to come up with a unique and creative design that is approved by city officials. Once it’s approved, it’s time for the artist to bring their vision to life.

“The owner of TLC allowed us to paint this large scale mural and was very interested in the project,” mural artist David Freeman said. “[The mural] resembles a vintage advertisement incorporating the Texas/Arkansas crossroads sign, Texarkana’s “Twice as Nice” motto and a portrait of Corrine Griffith, who is one of the most popular silent film actresses of the 1920’s [and was] born in Texarkana.”

As time goes on, it’s expected that Texarkana will grow its art district across the city. The most recent mural was revealed downtown on Oct. 4. The mural was sponsored by the popular brand “Dr. Pepper”. Pleasant Grove High School art students were also given the opportunity to help paint the mural. If you want to locate it, it can be found on the brick wall of TLC Burgers & Fries on 201 East Broad Street. 

“The new Dr. Pepper mural in downtown Texarkana was a collaborative effort, and I worked directly with Dr. Pepper for this design. When a final design was chosen, I began scheduling mural production with the Texarkana Main Street Director. The mural, sponsored by Dr Pepper, is a custom design specifically created for Texarkana and the downtown area,” Freeman said. “I hope that my mural inspires and brings joy to everyone who sees it for many years to come.”