MURRAY — Adding a touch of pizazz and color to downtown Murray was the objective of having a local artist paint a mural on the side of one of the buildings along Main Street.
The Murray-Calloway County Board of Realtors building now features images of some of Murray’s oldest homes, giving travelers just west of the city’s court square an added attraction as they head into the center point of the downtown area.
“We got approval for it two years ago,” said Murray Main Street Inc. Program Manager Deana Wright, who has said that artworks such as this mural are one of the remaining pieces that had gone undone for many years in the ongoing quest to increase traffic for customers doing business in the downtown area.
“So what we did was get an artist to create the mural we wanted and we got Cindy Vaughan for that, and she created three murals. So I went to City Hall and went through the process that is required – because you can’t just throw a mural up on a building; you’ve got to go through the proper approval process.”
Once the fees were paid and all of the proper paperwork was handled, Wright said it was a matter of finding the right place for the first mural to be painted. She went to the Board of Realtors to see if that entity had interest.
It did not take long for an answer to be received.
“When she told us it would involve historic homes, we said, ‘Of course!’ said the board’s association executive, Twilla Williams, whose group is out of town this week but has been able to view the finished product that features the Higgins House, McElrath-Scott House, Latto House and Diuguid House, all on Main Street. “It’s fantastic. We’ve been trying to take pictures every day just to show the progress that was being made on it day to day. We’re very proud of it, and we’re proud that it’s on our building.”
Vaughan was not able to do the actual painting due to medical issues that developed, so the job was handed to artist Tom Jackson. He handled the project in about three weeks, signing his last name to the finished work on Tuesday.
“It’s turned out better than I originally envisioned,” said Jackson, who did make a change to the design. “Originally, it was to have the homes in vignettes, I guess you could say, where they were apart from each other. But really quickly into it, I could tell that the project was lending itself in the direction that they needed to be in the same neighborhood, connected, even though they’re in different places.”
The result is that the homes all appear in a row, connected with a sidewalk. Jackson also took at least one request along the way.
“One day, I was painting it and an elderly couple came up to see what I was doing and the woman tells me, “That tan house you’re painting? That’s our house,’” Jackson recalled. “Then she asked, ‘Can you do me a favor? Would you paint a black cat on the porch?’ I said, ‘Sure!’
“You have that sometimes.”
Jackson also said a project like this is something about which he has dreamed in the past. He moved to Murray from California 11 years ago and said he was coming off not having painted a whole lot due to his job. Since coming to Murray, he has found an oasis in the form of the Murray Art Guild, with which he has been heavily involved since arriving in the community.
“I’ve done some painting jobs since coming here, and it’s been nice to get back into that,” he said. “The first one was something I did for Playhouse in the Park that measured about 15-by-20 feet for a play they were doing called ‘The River.’ That took three days, so I came into this thinking it would be two weeks without a whole lot of problems. It actually took three.
“Everybody seems to appreciate it so far. What makes me happy, though, is that they like it and it sounds like they want more, and there are a lot of good artists in this community who could do this. I hope the people here do some more.”
Wright said the next mural is in the planning stages and could be in place by the end of the summer. It will be painted on the side of the Maple Street Market/FitMeals Murray building and will be painted by local artist Lindsey Franklin.