The mural on the side of the Elk’s Lodge building on the corner of Homes and Flood Street painted by Ralph Stearns took months of planning and then a week of work.
This is just the first of many murals that will bring more art to the east side and hopefully be the start of bringing more people back to the east side.
Years ago, the Eastside community was thriving with people coming from all over the area to be apart of all the activities.
“People came from Childress, Vernon, Oklaunion, Electra, Iowa Park, Burkburnett all came here on Friday night and stayed on Saturday night and left on Sunday going home,” building owner Gene Autry Buchanan said. “That has all disappeared. As you can see now there is nothing here. It was jumping. There were singers.”
Artists like those who performed on the east side all those years ago is what inspired this mural.
“What image would inspire and unite this community? What inspires me is other artists,” Stearns said.
“Other artists like Marvin Gaye, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin. All of the great black artists that pulled themselves up.”
This mural is just the first part of a much larger program and goal.
“We wanted to look at this neighborhood as a whole and think about the partners we could identify that would allow us to use their walls to create this dialogue,” the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture Executive Director Margie Reese. “This is a series of four murals although, after today, it might be five, but a series of murals so this isn’t a one-shot deal. But where other neighborhoods and communities in this area could experience this art.”
This unveiling brought many people to the east side and Reese said she hopes the art will continue to do just that.
“Bringing people together means so much. There were folks here in city leadership positions, neighbors that live in this area, young people that work in the industries and in the downtown area that are curious about this neighborhood,” Reese said. “Just seeing people come out to the east side and show support for it, just means so much to the neighbors here and it means so much to the artist in this community.”
This completed mural is just the beginning of bringing more art and people to the Eastside.
Reese said the artist will start the next mural in a couple of weeks and the third will be painted sometime in May.