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story.lead_photo.caption Ashley Wright, left, Darlene Taylor, Irma Wright and Allison Wright pose in front of the mural Taylor is painting for the Wright family's new business venture. The mural will span several walls and buildings to create an interactive piece. Irma Wright, the owner of the property, met Taylor after she inquired about who was painting the holiday window murals at Lowe's in Texarkana several years ago. Since then, Taylor has helped Wright with several art projects. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

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 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 the former branch 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 creative personality Darlene Taylor, whose array of artistic pursuits include holiday window displays and Renaissance faire wear.

Darlene is a positive spirit with a supercharged, beaming smile. And she's put that energy to use at the request of property owners Jeff and Irma Wright, who intend to convert the former bank branch to a daiquiri and margarita shop — another addition to the entertainment district's downtown doings. Darlene has known Irma since 2014, when she worked at Lowe's Home Improvement here in town. She decorated holiday windows, which led her to doing art projects for Irma and her daughter.

"She's the greatest artist, definitely has a lot of talent. She can do it all," Irma said.

Irma said she has enjoyed seeing the city's downtown progress and believes this can unite the community during tough times.

A lot of good things have been incorporated in the mural, she notes, and they project a great vibe and atmosphere to it.

Darlene's artistic background includes drawing since she was a youngster. Her mother, a graphic artist, taught her how to draw, paint and sculpt.

Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer/Texarkana Gazette.

"One of the 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," Darlene said.

She sews, which spurred her to start up a new side business with costumes and clothing: Double Taylor Made Productions. 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.

Julie's Deli was her main job until recently; now she's trying to make it as a full-time artist.

In this downtown mural, the sugar skull figures prominently, adorned with red flowers and surrounded by vibrant color. Irma's ancestors in Mexico inspired this motif.

"This is going to be the first Hispanic-inspired mural in downtown Texarkana," Darlene said.

As of mid-November, Taylor has finished seven murals at the site, plus two murals inside the bank building itself. She also plans to work on a mural on the back side of Hopkins Icehouse.

"This mural will be a compilation of Texarkana landmarks, Hispanic dancers and sugar skulls designs," Taylor said. "It will take me a month to complete the murals at this location if the weather holds out."

Darlene has been working on the first of two murals inside the old Salvation Army building, downtown at 311 E. Broad St, that will become The Hideout, a rooftop bar and club.

Other projects on tap include murals for private homes, plus more costumes and cosplay.

Darlene said she intends to stay busy, but after a life full of multitasking, she is now going all-in, concentrating on following her artistic passion.

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