TEXARKANA, Ark. — Where most people see downtown's latest beautification project, Pleasant Grove High School art teacher Nicole Brisco saw an opportunity for her students.
On Wednesday, Brisco brought the officers of PG's National Art Honor Society to Olive and Broad streets for a hands-on lesson in the art of mural painting. Artist David Freeman explained the methods behind a new Dr Pepper mural on the side of TLC Burgers and Fries, and the students got to brush on some paint themselves, becoming a part of what is hoped to be a downtown feature for years to come.
When she heard about the project, Brisco remembered watching a mural being painted at Oaklawn Park Race Track in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and wanted her students to have a similar experience, she said.
Freeman walked them through the whole process of planning and executing the mural, which will depict silent film star and Texas-side native Corrine Griffith, along with the Texarkanas' unofficial motto, "Twice As Nice."
The mural is part of a nationwide campaign by Dr Pepper, and Freeman worked with the company through multiple initial designs to find one agreeable to the company. That process contains an important lesson for aspiring artists, Freeman said, as staying flexible and open to input is a skill they must develop.
Freeman explained the painstaking process of applying a grid to the design, drawing a corresponding grid on the wall and transferring the design onto the wall with techniques including tracing over full-scale printouts backed with carbon paper.
Ina McDowell, executive director of Main Street Texarkana, was on hand to explain the importance of the mural to downtown revitalization. She said it was important that it will be "reflective of Texarkana to make it uniquely our own" and emphasized that, in photos shared via social media, the mural will serve as a kind of artistic ambassador of the Twin Cities.
The completed mural will be unveiled Oct. 4 in conjunction with Dine on the Line, Main Street Texarkana's annual fundraiser. A bike tour of all downtown Texarkana's murals will be part of the festivities that day, McDowell said.