In the last five years, there has been an explosion of murals painted on buildings across the Golden Triangle, about 30 at last count.
But the idea of adorning buildings with mural art is not a new idea, as the faded advertising murals on old buildings throughout the country attest.
The murals in the Golden Triangle today are advertising as well, but of a different sort.
“Murals bring a sense focus to an area,” says Katherine Munson, whose had a hand in almost all of the murals painted in Columbus over the past five years, beginning with the mural at the Hitching Lot Farmers Market in 2013. Munson collaborated with local artist Katie McDill on that piece. “Murals help people better visualize the connections in a community.”
Former Starkville mayor Dan Camp, who has commissioned six murals on his properties in the Cotton District, said the murals not only reflect a certain “vibe,” but are a showcase for artists and their individual tastes.
“In a college town like Starkville, you need to do something to distinguish yourself,” said Camp, whose rentals add a bohemian touch to the general funkiness of the Cotton District and the college students who dominate the area. “The murals reflect individual tastes. So what you see on my properties is different, I think than what Lynn (Spruill) has in mind for downtown.”
Spruill, now the mayor of Starkville, is making a big push for public art during her first year in office. During her “state of the city” talk at the Starkville Rotary Club in December, she showed slides of murals painted in Cincinnati as part of the “Mayor’s Mural Program.”
One mural has already arrived in downtown Starkville, a Mississippi State basketball-themed mural painted on the west side of Restaurant Tyler.
Who knows, Starkville and Columbus might even catch up with West Point, which seems to be adding murals every time you look up.
West Point has Deborah Mansfield to thank for that.
Since moving the West Point from Texas five years ago, Mansfield, with the support of the town’s Main Street organization and volunteers, has painted 14 murals in town, with two more planned for completion in September.
“When we first started, we didn’t tell people. We just did it,” Mansfield said. “I think, with the first few, people were questioning what was going on. Now, everybody seems to enjoy and appreciate it. They’re excited. They want to know what’s next.”
What next is a new idea in the Golden Triangle. Mansfield and her partners are painting a mural on Frank’s Liquor store of “Dogs Playing Poker,” as a fund-raising for the city’s animal shelter. Donations at a sponsor’s level had have the image of their dog painted into the poker scene.
The second mural is a nod to the murals of the past. She will be refurbishing the old Coca-Cola and Al’s Cigars mural painted on a downtown building.
“Each mural has its own personality and, in some cases, it’s own purpose.”
While Camp commissioned a nationally-recognized mural artist, Michel Roy of Memphis, for several of his murals, most of the murals in the Golden Triangle are being created by local artist such as Munson, McDill and Mansfield.
Mansfield said the resurgence of murals throughout communities is a nation-wide trend.
“It creates vibrancy,’ Spruill said. “It reflects the personality of the community. I love it.”