Six flowers native to east Texas will soon reach nearly 40 feet tall as they transform a 5,300 square foot wall in downtown Longview into a work of art. Meanwhile, a woman with flowing red hair now lives downtown, and the notes of her flute spring from what was once a simple brick wall.
These two murals, along with a third that pays homage to the late artist Anup Bhandari, are among those that will bring more artistic beauty to downtown Longview.
âOne of our goals is to instill a love of the arts in Longview,â said Arts! Longview Executive Director Cynthia Hellen. âIt’s one of the ways we’re bringing art and more color to downtown Longview and the Cultural District.â
Some of the murals are funded by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts which Arts! Longview received. The organization still has funds available for an additional mural to paint. Hellen said the organization is looking for a building that would like to have a mural on one of its exterior walls, so the process can begin.
The Unity mural, which pays homage to Bhandari, was financed by private funds and adorns a wall of the LMFA Pelaia Plaza. This mural will be dedicated at 5:30 p.m. Thursday during the Downtown ArtWalk, which runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. that day.
For other murals, Arts! Longview launched an open call for artists from East Texas and selected from the many applications received.
The Flower Power mural, which will feature flowers native to East Texas, is painted by artist Tyler Dace Kidd on a wall in downtown The Landmark Social. Another mural titled Color For Your Ears is painted by Longview artist Diego Baracaldo on the side of the Longview Symphony Orchestra offices in downtown.
âThis concept is primarily a metaphor for making a visual representation of music,â said Baracaldo. âI tried to figure out how I could make a visual of the melody. I started looking for instruments and stuff like that. I like to draw animals, wild animals, flowers and all that. thought, why not just incorporate nature into the melodic design. I tried to switch from warm colors to cool colors with a soft transition to make it balanced. It’s a very feminine image. It’s romantic, it’s feminine, it’s beautiful.
Baracaldo is originally from Colombia but moved here 14 years ago. Although he has been artistic his entire life, he only started pursuing art professionally a few years ago. This is his first mural.
He had to adapt his schedule to the weather and said he learned a lot about proportions during the creation of the mural.
âYou get really close and then you have to take a step back, maybe take pictures, adjust, work on different sections,â he said.
After creating his concept, facing the black brick wall, he began by transforming the room into a wall by making a grid of dots. With the grid, he looked at each square and transferred lines to the wall. He then began to block out colors and shapes.
Besides the end result of his nearly completed mural, Baracaldo said he enjoys meeting people the most. Many people stopped because they saw him working. They took pictures and cheered him on.
âIt’s great to have this contact with the community, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of it,â he said.
The Flower Power mural that Kidd creates at Landmark Social is one of many she has painted in East Texas. Originally from Latvia, Kidd moved to Texas many years ago. A professional artist for about 15 years, she said that over the past five to six years, murals have grown in popularity. She has created several murals in downtown Tyler and for businesses in East Texas and the Dallas area.
âIt looks like murals have been a big and wonderful trend, especially in Texas because we have the space,â she said. âThere are a lot of walls and a lot of communities, like Tyler and Longview, who are eager to do something for the community and their downtown areas. “
When she submitted the idea for her concept to Arts! Longview, Kidd said she chose to focus on âpositive and brightâ for the piece Flower Power.
âThis wall is huge and I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to do something very bold and colorful,â she said.
While every mural is different, Kidd said the most challenging aspect of his current project is the changing texture of the wall itself. The Landmark Social wall is made of bricks, plaster and smooth surfaces. Each surface has a different texture and Kidd has to make sure it fills in all the grooves associated with each type and make sure the paint goes smoothly from one section to another.
Like Baracaldo, she said the most rewarding aspect is the interaction the project allows her to have with the community.
âWe’ve been working on this for weeks, but so many people have stopped,â Kidd said. âWhen I was doing the Unity mural, someone would stop every five minutes and say ‘this is amazing, we love it. It’s just a huge inspiration to keep going and do your best. “
Baracaldo’s mural will be completed before the Longview ArtWalk on Thursday. Kidd plans to finish his by July 15, weather permitting. Baracaldo and Kidd will be at ArtWalk on Thursday and can be found online.
To learn more about Kidd, visit her website at muralartisttx.com or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram @muralartisttx. To learn more about Baracaldo, find him on Instagram @diego_baracaldo_d or on Facebook at Diego Baracaldo Art.
To learn more about Arts! Longview and the city’s cultural district, visit artslongview.org.