Downtown Texarkana is beginning to look a little brighter thanks to the new murals that have been popping up. The murals are located in the new parking lot where the now demolished Kress building once stood, and are quickly becoming a popular picture destination.
Lisa Thompson, the communication and economic development manager for Texarkana, Texas was tasked with making the empty parking lot more beautiful. “The City Manager and I knew we wanted to make this site more interesting but the challenge was to make it a creative space as well,” said Thompson. “I had the idea of it becoming a destination for Instagram pictures, so we decided upon having the murals painted.”
The city called upon local artists to submit their ideas for murals and they received a tremendous response. Nearly 30 mural ideas were submitted. The city eventually chose which murals would fill the parking lot walls and was then ready to begin the area’s facelift. No project is without its obstacles, however. The demolition of the Kress building took longer than expected, delaying the project from moving forward. Bad weather was also a factor. In March, the first mural went up followed by two more. Several other murals are planned or waiting on scheduling.
Painted in blues, greens, and yellows, the first mural to go up features the pine trees that are symbolic of East Texas and Texarkana. Through the silhouettes of the trees, the word “Texarkana” can be seen. It was painted by Carissa Mathias, a Texarkana native who graduated from Pleasant Grove High School and now lives elsewhere.
The second mural finished was painted by Jes Weiner, another Texarkana Native and PGHS graduate, who now calls Kansas City her home. Her mural features a portrait of a girl who radiates sunshine and uses bright pops of color while also incorporating the word “Texarkana.” With the other words painted on the mural, it reminds all those who see it to “Shine Bright.”
The most recently completed mural was done by local resident, Danielle Hamblett. Of the three murals, it is the most abstract, featuring five geometric blocks of color in blue, yellow, purple, red, and green. In the the bottom right-hand corner is the hashtag “#FABKMURAL” which reminds those who takes pictures with it to use the tag on social media. The hashtag currently has 13 pictures on Instagram and is continuing to grow.
As beautiful as they are, these murals aren’t meant to last forever. Unlike the Scott Joplin mural that is treated with a protective clear coat to help preserve it for many years, the paint for these murals is more temporary. “These murals may last for a few years, maybe five or six,” said Thompson. “Once these wear out, we will most likely start over.”
The mural project at the Kress Gap has certainly made downtown Texarkana a brighter, more creative, and more interesting space. The parking lot has become a destination for artists and prom picture takers alike. Hopefully, this growing collection of murals will continue to brighten people’s days for many years to come.