The downtown Denison streetscape will soon gain new life thanks to a new mural that will be added this weekend. Dallas-based mural artist Jerod Davies will be creating a new piece of public art in the city’s art district as a part of plans to revitalize and add new use to the city’s downtown alleyways.
The new mural, which will be painted at 110 S. Rusk, will feature art of butterflies aimed at generating photo and selfie opportunities for visitors to downtown. The project comes ahead of the Designing Downtown Denison project, which will see the construction of a new streetscape for Main Street and improvements aimed at bringing new life and vitality to alleys along downtown’s major corridors.
“We are trying to get people accustomed to being in those alleys prior to the construction,” City Council member Brian Hander said, who is financing the mural. “We are trying to bring people downtown and show them what we have to offer. We are growing by leaps and bounds and we want to showcase that.”
Artist renderings for the mural show a large monarch butterfly that is placed high enough for adults to be able to take pictures with the art. Another butterfly, that appears to be a blue morpho, sits next to the larger piece at a lower level for younger visitors to take a picture while two other butterflies hover above.
Davies, who also paints under the name Dtox, said the wings of the monarch butterfly start normal near the base but distort and become an explosion of color as they move up the insect’s body.
“It is an accurate expression of what you see in nature but transforms into an expression of movement in paint near the top,” he said Wednesday.
Hander said the idea for the piece came from Denison resident Susan Hamilton, who has worked to create way stations and local habitats for monarch butterflies during their annual migrations.
From that idea, Hander said he was able to commission Davies to make the mural using funds he raised from the sale of books on Denison’s history. Hander said he was introduced to Davies’ art three years ago when he attended the Denison Fall Festival and received good feedback from organizers.
“So, he was someone we wanted to bring in to downtown Denison for some regional talent,” Hander said.
Davies said he was painted near the performance stage during the festival and ultimately drew a picturesque piece based on inspiration from folk music that was being performed.
“It was a beautiful day and everyone in town was friendly,” he said.
This is not the first piece of that the artist has made that was aimed at being interactive. Davies said there are walking tours of 12 of his survival murals in Deep Elum that bring out the same feeling. Additionally, a recent collaboration with other artists entitled, Psychedelic Robot 2.0, features multiple pieces aimed creating a photographic moment for visitors, he said.
“It is sort of a way of sparking creativity in people,” he said.
Hander said the site for the mural was chosen in part due to city regulations on downtown buildings. City regulations forbid the painting of most buildings within the city’s downtown historic district as it would change the historic character of the buildings. However, if the building has historically been painted, murals and other art are allowed, he said.
The upcoming mural is one of several public art pieces that are planned for downtown by the city, arts council and private entities. Some of these pieces will be themed around “hometown heroes” including pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, T.V. Munson and former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Hander said he will be partnering on the mural of Sullenberger, which will be painted by local artist Syndey Metcalf. Metcalf has created several murals across Denison, including ones at the Denison Public Library and Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
Other upcoming public art in Denison will include an expansion of the decorated art dumpsters that were recently placed in downtown.
Michael Hutchins in a reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.