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story.lead_photo.caption Artist David Freeman prepares three murals of a historical nature to add to the top of a building in Summerhill Square, giving a glimpse of Texarkana's past.

TEXARKANA, Texas — Summerhill Square visitors will now have art to see at the Texas-side shopping center in addition to options for holiday shopping.

The center management enlisted the help of Northeast Texas artist David Freeman to prepare three murals of a historical nature to add to the top of one building, giving a glimpse of Texarkana's past. They're about 3 feet by 14 feet in size, facing south.

"We are doing them on art panels. We wanted to spotlight Texarkana and the history," said Freeman, who's based in Mount Pleasant and has done work across Texas and previously in Texarkana, such as the Dr. Pepper mural downtown and the Lil Bit of Everything mural in Oaklawn Village.

Freeman was approached by Donovan Driver of Schimming Co. real estate agency, and they worked on design options related to Texarkana history. Once the overall concept was established, the muralist started on the art, which was scheduled to be installed this week.

"They're basically going to be placed up on the roof area," Freeman said. He adopted a loose and painterly style for the project. "And just have a real vintage look of nostalgia, you know."

The three murals each offer a different snapshot of Texarkana life in the past, including the railroad, which was essential to Texarkana's beginnings, and 19th century views of state line (1890s) and downtown (1870s). Freeman worked from ideas pictured in photographs.

"Inspiration came from doing research and old, vintage photos, just all the information we could gather and just assembling it into something that would work for the space," Freeman said.

In addition to murals, Freeman's specialties include decorative painting and oil-rubbed bronze. Other projects include murals at Bankhead Brewing Co. in Dallas and one for the Rotary Centennial Project in Mount Pleasant.

He enjoys the historical aspects of mural projects and the artistic approach they employ. He has more than two decades of mural experience.

"I've studied Old World art and Old World finishing techniques for many years and I just enjoy doing it. It just so happens this is kind of the subject and the topic that we've done here in Texarkana, so it's just worked out great. I enjoy it a lot," Freeman said.

Driver said he was familiar with Freeman's work, in particular the downtown mural. They wanted something Texarkana-centric, so historical was the way to go.

"David shot me over a couple proofs. They were wonderful," Driver said, adding, "It's going to look a lot better than having these blank boards up there. It will hopefully get people a little bit more inspired about the historical aspects of Texarkana."

Freeman's traditional style appealed to the landlord, so they thought the muralist would be the right fit.

"David does a wonderful job," Driver said, also noting Summerhill Square's longevity as a local spot for commerce.

"Back to Summerhill Square, it's one of Texarkana's oldest shopping centers, as well. I don't think a lot of people understand that. It's been around since the '70s, and it has some of Texarkana's most popular businesses in it," Driver said. Some tenants have been there about 30 years.

Vertical Alliance Group is the current tenant in the building where the murals will be situated. "We've already received some feedback on those proofs, and it's all been completely positive," Driver said.

(On the Net: artistdavidfreeman.com.)

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