Q&A - May 13, 2016

All across the country, communities large and small are rediscovering their historic downtown buildings and infrastructure. Like finding a lost treasure, these old structures are being reclaimed with great care and interest by a new generation.

Many towns, like Okmulgee, are investing in the revitalization of their downtown spaces with the hope of attracting new businesses and more people to their communities—and for most of these towns, this investment is paying off.

An element that is commonly seen in a successful downtown revitalization is the effective use of public works of art. This week, I would like to concentrate on murals.

Q: I read in the paper that we are going to get another new mural downtown. This is a great idea! What can you tell us about it?

A mural is artwork that is painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. Murals are typically large in scale and often incorporate architectural elements of the supporting structure directly into the picture. Murals can be abstract or deceptively realistic. They can be whimsical or make a serious point. They can sell a product or tell a saga. There are few rules when it comes to painting a mural. It depends mostly on the imagination of the muralist and the thought or impression that he or she wishes to convey.

Murals are one of the most ancient art forms. When you think about prehistoric cave drawings or the hieroglyphics left behind by many of the ancient cultures around the world, you quickly realize that human beings have been decorating the walls of their surroundings with artwork for centuries.

Downtown Okmulgee has a rich history of mural art painted on the sides of buildings. Much of it has been in the form of business signage and advertising, but some of it has also been designed to evoke an emotion or simply appeal to the eye.

Through a partnership between Okmulgee Main Street and Oklahoma Tourism, a grant has been secured to hire an artist to paint a new mural that will greet people as they drive into downtown Okmulgee from Hwy 75 along 6th Street. The mural is proposed for the upper section of the east facing wall of the Snead Building. This building sets on the north side of 6th Street, just west of the Okmulgee Creek Bridge.

On Thursday evening, May 26, Okmulgee Main Street will be hosting a special dinner event at the Okmulgee Community Center, called “Food for Thought: Okmulgee Mural Project.” The 6:00 dinner will be catered by 102 Ristorante and everyone in attendance will get to watch the live presentations from some of the country’s top muralists and vote on their favorite presentation. We hope to get widespread community representation and involvement at this event and select the muralist that will best reflect our entire community.

Come share a meal and share your thoughts. Tickets are $10.00 each and can be obtained from any Main Street Board Member or from the Main Street Office at 107 East 6th Street.

Please forward your additional comments or questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu.