Six native East Texas flowers soon will stand nearly 40-feet high 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 from her flute burst from what was once a plain brick wall.
Those two murals, along with a third that pays tribute to the late artist Anup Bhandari, are among several that will bring more artistic beauty to downtown Longview.
“One of our goals is to spark a love of the arts in Longview,” Arts!Longview Executive Director Cynthia Hellen said. “This is one of the ways we’re bringing art and more color to downtown Longview and the cultural district.”
Some of the murals are being funded by a Texas Commission on the Arts grant that Arts!Longview received. The organization still has funding available for one additional mural to be painted. 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 tribute to Bhandari, was privately funded and graces a wall at the LMFA Pelaia Plaza. That mural will be dedicated at 5:30 p.m. Thursday during the city’s downtown ArtWalk, which is set from 5 to 8 p.m. that day.
For the other murals, Arts!Longview did an open call to East Texas artists and selected from the many entries received.
The Flower Power mural, which will feature native East Texas flowers, is being painted by Tyler-based artist Dace Kidd on a wall of The Landmark Social downtown. Another mural called Color For Your Ears is being painted by Longview-based artist Diego Baracaldo on the side of Longview Symphony Orchestra’s office space downtown.
“This concept is mainly a metaphor for making a visual representation of music,” Baracaldo said. “I tried to come up with how I could make a visual of melody. I started looking for instruments and stuff like that. I love drawing animals, wildlife, flowers and all that. I thought, why not just incorporate nature into the melodic design. I tried to transition from warm colors to cool colors with a smooth transition so it was balanced. It’s a very feminine image. It’s romantic, it’s feminine, it’s beautiful.”
Baracaldo hails from Colombia but he moved here 14 years ago. While he’s been artistic is whole life, he didn’t begin pursuing art professionally until a couple of years ago. This is his first mural.
He’s had to adjust his schedule to the weather and he said he’s learned a lot about proportions in the course of creating the mural.
“You draw very close and then you have to step back, maybe take some pictures, adjust, work on different sections,” he said.
After creating his concept, when he faced the black brick wall, he started by transforming the piece to the wall by making a dot grid. With the grid he looked at each square and transferred lines to the wall. He then began blocking colors and shapes.
Besides the end result of his mural being near completion, Baracaldo said he’s most enjoyed meeting people. Many people have stopped as they’ve seen him working. They’ve taken pictures and cheered him on.
“It’s great to have that contact with the community, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of it,” he said.
The Flower Power mural Kidd is creating at The Landmark Social is one of many she’s painted in East Texas. Originally from Latvia, Kidd moved to Texas many years ago. A professional artist for about 15 years, she said in the past five to six years murals have grown in popularity. She’s created several murals in downtown Tyler and for businesses in East Texas as well as the Dallas area.
“It seems like murals have a been a big, wonderful trend especially in Texas because we have the space,” she said. “There are a lot of walls and a lot of communities, like Tyler and Longview, that are looking forward to doing something for the community and their downtowns.”
When submitting the idea for her concept to Arts!Longview, Kidd said she chose to focus on “positive and bright” for the Flower Power piece.
“This wall is huge and I thought, wouldn’t it be incredible to do something very bold and colorful,” she said.
While every mural is different, Kidd said the most challenging aspect of her current project has been the changing texture of the wall itself. The wall at The Landmark Social features brick, plaster and smooth surfaces. Each surface has a different texture and Kidd has to make sure she fills in all the grooves associated with each type as well as making sure the paint transitions seamlessly 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.
“We’ve been working on this for weeks but so many people have stopped by,” Kidd said. “When I was doing the Unity Mural, there was somebody stopping by every five minutes and saying ‘this is amazing, we love it.’ It is just a huge inspiration to keep going and do your best.”
Baracaldo’s mural will be completed prior to Longview’s ArtWalk on Thursday. Kidd anticipates finishing hers by July 15, weather permitting. Baracaldo and Kidd will be at Thursday’s ArtWalk 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.