TEXARKANA, Ark. — Sugar skulls, flowers, butterflies and a curled-up, snoozing cat — maybe not the first things that come to mind when we think of a former bank branch property.
But such imagery has come alive at what was a longtime Regions Bank drive-through branch on Wood Street downtown.
From deposits to Day of the Dead, such is the transformation.
A long wall between it and the adjacent property, the interior of the building, another side wall and the back portion of a building connected to Hopkins Icehouse, all of it will be filled with the mural work of local artist and all-around creative personality Darlene Taylor, whose array of artistic pursuits include holiday window displays and Ren faire wear.
Despite the persistence of summer heat, Taylor has been hard at work in recent days. Visitors drop in to see the progress and snap photos, which is something she loves. One girl suggested adding a unicorn. She plans to include hidden images for people to discover as they gaze upon the mural.
"There's going to be flowers all up and down it," Taylor promises.
Expect to see fairy houses and a golden margarita worked into the design. It gives people something to do to come down and look for things, they say. Taylor is inspired by the dozens of fairy doors that were hidden downtown a few years ago.
Taylor has known Irma since 2014 when she worked at Lowe's Home Improvement here in town. She decorated holiday windows for occasions like Christmas, Easter and Veteran's Day. That led to Taylor doing art projects for Irma and her daughter.
Seeing Taylor on the cover of HER Magazine this summer and a recommendation from the Knock on Wood Vintage Supply owner Scarlett Lewis put Irma in mind to seek Taylor out again for this project at the future daiquiri domain.
"She's the greatest artist, definitely has a lot of talent. She can do it all," Irma Wright said.
The Wrights' plans for the building include an express daiquiri and margarita shop.
"Possibly in the future, we may incorporate some food trucks like that to sell some good food, tacos and everything. I love cooking," Wright said, noting they want their place to help revive downtown.
"And possibly to unite the community and have something neat, different," she said.
Wright has enjoyed seeing the downtown neighborhood progress and believes this can unite the community during tough times for the country.
"We're going to incorporate a lot of good things throughout this mural," she said, noting Taylor's painting already has a great vibe and atmosphere to it. "You can't go wrong with daiquiris," she added.
Wright said they'll aim for the next 60 days to get their margarita and daiquiri business open, perhaps earlier.
Taylor's artistic background includes drawing since she was a youngster. Her mother, a graphic artist, taught her how to draw, paint and sculpt. Such artistic growth taught her to be ever-creative in new ways.
"One of that things that I do is every year on my birthday I learn a new thing. So every year I learn how to do something different. I learn how to do websites, I learn how to do graphic art, I learn how to do painting, I learn how to do watercolor," Taylor said.
She sews, which spurred her to start up a new side business with costumes and clothing, Double Taylor Made Productions. Julie's Deli is her main job. Recent costume projects include a vivaciously blue 1950s-style dress made for a car show, plus a fancy tabard just right for Renaissance fair garb.
She taught herself how to make foam armor and, when it comes to those Renaissance fairs, serves as captain of the Queen's Musketeers here in Texarkana. They travel when they can — think pre-pandemic — to be guest cast members at fairs elsewhere.
"This is going to be the first Hispanic-inspired mural in downtown Texarkana," Taylor said.
Her mural skills have also been applied to her home with a mural on the side of it. She aims to complete it, but after the unexpected passing of her husband Andy she's raising funds to save her home and get beyond foreclosure proceedings.
Anyone interested in helping can assist via her Save the Andy House fundraiser for Darlene Annette Taylor on Facebook. This past week would have marked the second anniversary for her and her late husband.
At her home, the mural is equally, boldly colorful with sunflowers and other lively splashes of red, yellow, blue, black and greenery, along with, once again, a cat parked in the corner.
And at the bank branch, which closed this past summer, they say, they aim to complete the entire wall and much more. One of the murals will include a menagerie of Texarkana landmarks.
"It's going to be months," Taylor said about her time frame to do it all. But she enjoys being outside, working on the mural project. She gets to be part of the downtown mural rage.
"I love everyone coming by and taking pictures in front of it, so that makes me happy," Taylor said. "When you do Renaissance fairs you're constantly taking pictures with people anyway. You're in a lot of people's photo albums and a lot of people's memories."
It's the same with a mural, she says. As long as the pictures and memories are there, she's there.