The Jefferson City Cultural Arts Commission is bringing a splash of color to East Capitol Avenue.
The plan is to paint a mural on the fence that now spans the gap on the street where three buildings were demolished following the May 2019 tornado.
Holly Stitt, chair of the commission and owner of the properties where the mural will be, said the commission has been wanting to paint a mural for several years.
After Stitt had to demolish the buildings at 619, 621 and 623 E. Capitol Ave. and put up the fence to surround the empty space, she saw an opportunity.
“Someone creating something that encapsulated all of the arts and everything that happened there was just a no-brainer,” Stitt said. “I wanted something on there to make it more beautiful than just a fence.”
Local artist Amy Greenbank will paint the mural across the middle portion of the fence. The mural will feature bright colors and a collage of Jefferson City icons like the Missouri state Capitol and symbols of Jefferson City’s art culture including dancers, a painter and musical instruments.
Also hidden throughout the mural will be five shoes — a reference to Jefferson City’s history of shoe manufacturing — as a fun challenge to viewers.
“Almost everything in the painting is there for a purpose,” Greenbank said Tuesday.
Some bending trees and representation of a breeze in the background are a gentle tribute to the tornado that hit the city. A line of music notes flowing through the breeze are the beginning of the official state song, “Missouri Waltz.”
The commission hopes to include the JCMO Porchfest logo on the fence as well, although plans for how to include it are not finalized. Also, the mural may have an interactive element through use of chalkboard paint or another type of interactive art, which is also yet to be determined.
Although those lots may be rebuilt someday, Stitt said, the process will likely take a few years, during which time the mural can decorate the empty space. Once new buildings are incoming, the fence could be disassembled and moved to a new location so the mural is not lost.
The commission recently installed a sculpture in front of the fence as part of a program called “Sculpture on the Move,” which allows cities to install sculptures for a specific period of time. The abstract piece will also be on site for two years before being removed.
To begin the mural, the Cultural Arts Commission needs to have the design approved by the Jefferson City Council. During its meeting Tuesday, the commission worked with Greenbank on some edits to the design with hopes of soon having the final design to present to the council.
Stitt said they hope to begin the mural as soon as they have council approval and to have it completed by this fall.
“There’s many people that walk up and down the street and people that come from the tours that walk around here, and now we have something that they can take a picture in front of and it brightens up the corner,” Stitt said. “It’s just a really cool thing, other than a brown fence.”