Arkansas' arts profile is higher than ever thanks to the growth of murals projects in towns large and smallBy Dwain Hebda
From the highly publicized The Unexpected in Fort Smith to tiny hidden treasures in hamlets statewide, murals are making big statements. Here are a few you’ll want to see:
FORT SMITH Fort Smith has weathered the loss of local industry with new thinking and a fresh approach to all things, including art. The Unexpected is the outcropping of this mindset. Comprised of several murals and various pieces of outdoor art, the organization landed an international cast of artists for projects all over town and in doing so has set the pace for the rest of the state. “We have approximately 30 murals and installations here and one in Fayetteville. Last year we did a very highprofile wall in Fayetteville as an extension of our brand, and also to just kind of remind our friends up north we are the thought leader within this type of art genre.”
HOT SPRINGS Passers by in Hot Springs can’t help but notice the eye-popping mural on Emergent Arts, a piece completed in May by Kansas City-based artist Phil Shafer who paints under the professional name Sike Style. The striking design, painted in conjunction with Hot Springs’ Annual Arts & the Park Festival in May, incorporates crystals as a symbol of the Hot Springs area, while infusing the hues of earth and sky with warm geometrics. While in Hot Springs, Sike also led an artist’s lecture on his public art and exhibited small works in the Emergent Arts gallery.
FAYETTEVILLE Fayetteville’s mural scene took a giant leap forward this summer with the public art project Green Candy, presented by Experience Fayetteville. Working in tandem with Justkids. Experience Fayetteville announced an international lineup of artists to create either murals or three-dimensional pieces of art for display around historic downtown Fayetteville. The artists installed their work in August and include Bordalo of Portugal; Malaysian-based Ernest Zacharevic of Lithuania; the duo Bicicleta Sem Freio of Brazil; Marina Zumi of Argentina and Arkansans Jason Jones of Fayetteville and Gina Gallina of Eureka Springs.
SPRINGDALE Springdale built upon its butterfly-friendly reputation this fall with the unveiling of Migrating Mural, a work depicting the life cycle of the monarch. Painted on the tower of the city’s airport, the privately funded mural was created by artist Jane Kim and measures 22-by-40-feet in size. Kim’s studio specializes in creating fine art, environmental campaigns, exhibitions and science illustrations. The dedication of the Migrating Mural, which included a new monarch way station, is part of a series of public art installations that celebrate wildlife along migration corridors it shares with people.