McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 16, 2013

Locals restore community mural

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — It takes a lot of time, patience and talent to create a mural depicting a city’s heritage on the side of a building.

And when a mural is worn by the weather or vandalized, it can take all of the above to restore it.

Local artists Anita Caldwell Jackson and Ted Welch recently spent several days working on the mural on the side of a building at the corner of Second Street and Choctaw Avenue.

“We did some touching up,” Welch said Tuesday, noting some of the images had faded in the two years since the mural had been completed. It’s on the side of a building owned by Dr. Bob Bartheld.

In addition to adding fresh paint at spots, Jackson said some images which were sealed to depict photographs had been peeled off, so those have been restored as well.

Combining images from modern times with some from times past, the artists painted the mural in the style known by the French phrase trompe l’oeil, which means “fool the eye.”

One doesn’t have to look to closely to find a couple of images of the artists themselves included in the mural, with the image of Welch looking like he’s kicked back and painting another scene. It looks so life-like that it’s apparently fooled some of his friends — who’ve wondered why “he” didn’t wave back when they drove by and waved at him.

Welch and Jackson typically draw a lot of attention when working on the mural — even when doing renovations on it. After all, the mural is 80 feet long and 15 foot high.

It’s brought a lot of attention to the Southeastern Oklahoma Fine Arts Association. While Welch and Jackson were the primary artists, other SOFA members also helped when the project got under way in 2011.

“This has been the best thing for our group,” Jackson said.

And while Jackson has garnered numerous awards in her art career, nothing stands out like an outdoor mural.

“I’ve got more recognition for this than anything I’ve done in my life,” she said.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.