Arts and Historic District committee to update Scott Joplin mural

Steve Snodgrass , Flickr

The Texarkana Arts and Historic District committee has commissioned local artist Arthur Pletcher to update the Scott Joplin mural in downtown Texarkana located on the Norton & Wood Law Firm building facing the Perot Theatre and 3rd Street on the Texas side.

The mural was originally painted by Debra Moseley-Lord in 1984 and restored by C.D. Little and Janette Lantrip in 1998. Local artist C.D. Little will once again work on this year’s restoration effort.

Texarkana Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Andrew Clark explains plans for the mural.

“The mural design will be a restoration of the existing work of art,” Clark said. “The design will incorporate more of Joplin’s original pieces, a refresh of colors, and will highlight his Academy Award and Pulitzer Prize.”

Main Street Texarkana Director, Ina McDowell, says the project is important to downtown’s landscape.

“Scott Joplin is an important part of our community history and the mural has been a popular tourist attraction for many years.  The Joplin mural tells the story of the “Father of Ragtime Music” showing a few of his most famous works,” McDowell said.

“Texarkana is the boyhood home of Scott Joplin, Father of Ragtime Music,” McDowell said. “Just down the street from the Joplin mural, at the Museum of Regional History, visitors may listen to his work and see the piano that Joplin learned to play on in the Beasley Music Exhibit.”

The mural project will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 to complete. The Arts and Historic District has committed $2,500 and has received $5,000 more in private donations. Current project contributors include the Wayne Garrison Trust, the Bobbie Atkinson Foundation, the Goesl Foundation, Lonoke Baptist Church and Main Street Texarkana. However, additional funding is still needed and the group is asking for donations from the community to help fund the project in full.

Brian Goesl, Executive Director of the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council, describes the murals impact on people of all ages.

“A child, during a tour of the Joplin Mural, once asked me upon hearing Scott Joplin’s story, ‘You mean a man from here in Texarkana grew up to write music that folks from all over the world would dance to and play?’ Yes!  At that moment, you could see in his face that for the very first time in his young life that he too had hope,” Goesl said. “He realized that he could dream of becoming anything he wanted to become.  This is what the Scott Joplin Mural represents; it is a symbol of hope.  It is a statement that even if you grow up in a small community, no matter your background, though you are indeed far from the lights and glamour of ‘the big city’, Texarkana is a great place to grow up, dream dreams and call home.”

The updated mural, which measures 16 feet tall and 115 feet wide, will include historically accurate depictions of Joplin as an adolescent, and incorporate most of the elements of the current mural.

The Arts and Historic District committee is made up of organizations that work together to market activities and events in downtown Texarkana to promote tourism and visitors to the area. Participants include both cities of Texarkana, Texarkana Main Street, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, the Texarkana Museum System, Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council, and the Texarkana Museum Systems. This group is also responsible for downtown banners that have recently been installed and wayfinding signage in downtown. Also, the group is currently conducting an economic impact study with Texas A&M – Texarkana Intern Holden Fleming, community representatives and professors from Texas A&M – Texarkana.

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