A Main Street El Dorado committee is still developing ideas for public art projects to implement in downtown El Dorado.
Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE, said the Design ComA Main Street El Dorado committee is still developing ideas for public art projects to implement in downtown El Dorado.
mittee met recently and is moving forward with plans to identify potential sites for wall murals and to update and refresh existing art downtown.
Design is one of the elements of Main Street America’s four-point approach toward community-based, downtown revitalization initiatives for Main Street and historic commercial districts.
The other three points are vitality, organization and promotion.
MSE has long supported and initiated public art projects to help promote and beautify downtown El Dorado, including a popular oil barrel project that was launched in the early 2000s and in which sponsors creatively designed and fashioned oil barrels — in a nod to the city’s oil industry — into various objects such as a tube of lipstick and the Disney animated character Dumbo.
For years, the barrels were displayed in several spots throughout downtown El Dorado
MSE was also the driving force behind the guitar sculptures that were installed around the Union County Courthouse.
Currently under consideration is the rehabilitation of a wall sign that welcomes visitors to downtown El Dorado from the West Main Street approach.
The sign, which reads “Welcome to historic downtown El Dorado”, is on the west wall of the building that houses Main Street Antiques, 112 W. Main.
Brumley previously said MSE is also looking at installing uplighting to illuminate the sign after dark and repainting the sign to reflect MSE’s new logo, which was adopted last year.
The design resembles patchwork and comes with a color palette that ties Main Street to the city of El Dorado, the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Business Association with materials that help to promote El Dorado, she explained.
An initial quote for the project came in just under $5,000, which excludes the uplighting.
Potential sites for murals are the brick wall that adjoins Hill’s Recreation Parlor, 203 E. Cedar, a brick wall that divides the north wall of the Masonic Temple and the Mahony parking lot in the 100 block of South Washington and the west, exterior wall of the building that formerly housed Larry’s Rexall Pharmacy at 203 E. Elm.
Members of the El Dorado Historic District Commission have noted that the brick walls on Cedar and Washington were interior walls and they have been damaged due to long-term exposure to outdoor elements.
Commissioners further expressed concern about the condition of the bricks and the potential for further damage with an art project.
Earlier this month, Brumley said former Mayor Frank Hash is working with Mahony family member Eamon Mahony to address issues with the wall on South Washington and the pair are exploring options, including removing the wall.
The safety hazards that are posed by the wall renders the proposed mural project ineligible for a public arts grant that is offered by the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Brumley said.
The grant is available to Main Street and Downtown Network communities to help enhance “the appearance of their environment by facilitating the collaborations necessary to build and strengthen an awareness and enjoyment of public art.”
Projects must be new, site specific and public art and artworks may include murals and tile work, permanent paintings and drawings and sculpture.
The artwork must also be freely visible and accessible to the public for at least two years.
“If that wall does come down, hopefully, we’ll be more in line for the grant and more prepared to apply,” Brumley said.