Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I am still fo' real 'bout Dothan's Rock 'N Roll mural, however, I don't see where the $10,000 is gonna come from. The one described in the article below is gonna cost at least $70,000. That's too high.
Here's my idea. We all volunteer a weekend. We find a wall in Dixie preferably near where Dixie Amusement Co. was located near the intersection with North St. Andrews Street. We get a projector and as soon as it gets dark one Friday night, we project the photo below on the wall and outline it. Come Saturday morning, everybody shows up with their stash of different colors of latex exterior paint and we go to work on the mural.
I don't think that will cost $70,000 and I don't think we'll have to attend any committee meetings with the "Downtown Group" or listen to their "experts".
Scout out locations and let me hear from ya.


Dothan's 14th mural underway

By Corrina Sisk-Casson / Eagle Staff Writer
August 24, 2004

Local artist Wes Hardin spreads paint on the nose of a train which is being depicted on Dothan's newest mural Monday morning. Hardin has painted many of Dothan's murals including "Fort Rucker," The Steamboat Era," and " Sherman Rose - Tuskeegee Airman."
Jay Hare
On the corner of Burdeshaw and Foster streets in downtown Dothan stands a long brick wall between the law offices of Jones and Associates and Choice Inn. Donning a floppy straw hat, paint splattered jeans and a long sleeve shirt rolled up to his elbows, Wes Harden is hard at work painting on that wall what will be known as the longest mural in the southeastern United States.

The Wiregrass Association of Murals commissioned Harden to do "The Train Mural" depicting the story of Dothan in the 1800's. According to local historian and chairman of the mural committee, Wendell Stepp, the trains arrived in 1889 and helped to create Dothan.

"Until the train arrived you couldn't ship the turpentine from here. It was too far to go over to the Chattahoochee River," Stepp said about the 22 mile trek. "So we weren't getting any industry here (in Dothan) until the trains arrived."

Before the trains came to Dothan, Columbia and Abbeville were the largest towns in the Wiregrass. At the time, Columbia was known as the "Gem of the Wiregrass" because it was so nice.

"They wouldn't let the trains go through Columbia because they said the smoke and the noise from it, they even went so far as to say the cows wouldn't let down milk with the train," Stepp said. "They were narrow-minded enough to think that the river traffic would continue forever. So Dothan got it."

Rebecca Pavy, from the Downtown Group, held up a wooden rendering of what the end project would look like. Harden pointed to the picture and said the mural would be read like a book, from left to right, with the earliest part of history showing turpentine gatherers and the harvesting of pine trees for lumber. Then the mural will show the planting of cotton on the cleared fields and eventually progress to the time when trains came to the area.

The mural will stretch 222 feet long and reach as tall as 32 feet in some places. The committee presents artists with a narrative of what they want the next mural to look like. Then the artist researches history through old pictures, talking to people on the street and visiting various locations to get inspiration. The Train Mural is Harden's fifth mural in Dothan. He's worked on murals in the city since 1998. Other murals in Dothan that Harden has done are the A.M.E. Church Mural, the Fort Rucker Mural, Fort Scott Mural, and the Steamboat Mural. Harden's handiwork can be seen in other places as well, including Bainbridge, Ga., Panama City, Fla., and Blakely, Ga. He's also consulting with a city in Virginia to do a mural there soon.

"Each are different, each has their own personality," Harden said of all of his paintings.

Harden has his own studio in Dothan and specializes in portraits. The people that Harden meets often end up in his murals. He said that his sons have been featured in one and Stepp will most likely be in the Train Mural.

"Often times I try to figure out a way to add people," Harden said of his work. "It might be a story about a church, but I want to see people."

The mural project began when some people from Dothan saw murals throughout a town in Canada. They met with others and thought it would be a great fix for a run-down building in the heart of downtown. Today a brightly colored mural about the peanut is featured on the side of the building.

"We made a ruling from the very first," Stepp said. "That no mural is put on a wall because the mural is pretty. We put it on the wall to tell a story. If it don't tell a story we don't want it."

The Train Mural will be the 14th mural in Dothan. The group hopes to eventually expand to 20 murals so that Dothan can technically be called a National Mural City. Today Dothan is only recognized as an Alabama Mural City.

One of the main reasons for the murals is to teach children about the history of Dothan. It's also a way to draw tourists to the area. Some have the misconception that the murals are paid for by taxes, but Stepp explained that this is simply untrue. Instead, the murals are funded through fund raisers and money donated by organizations and individuals.

The Downtown Group sets up tours of the murals throughout the year. Harden and Stepp as well as others are guides. The Downtown Group also offers posters of the murals to be framed if people want to display the art in their homes. Eventually all the murals will be made into posters and signed by the artists.


Vandalized peanuts back in place in Dothan
The Elvis peanut has its black pompadour properly groomed again.

And the giant pink peanut is back in its place.

All is right again with the giant fiberglass peanuts that have been decorating Dothan.

The Downtown Group persuaded businesses to buy 40 giant fiberglass peanuts for $1,000 each and then spend money to have local artists decorate them. The project raised money to maintain murals in the city that is famous for the National Peanut Festival each fall.

On the night of March 23, vandals damaged two peanuts and stole the pink peanut that stood in front of the Dothan Civic Center. The pink peanut, which promoted breast cancer awareness, was found by railroad tracks in Midland City and returned to Dothan.

The Elvis peanut in front of the Days Inn had its sunglasses ripped off and it right arm, hand and hair damaged, but the damage was repaired last week.

"Elvis is back," hotel manager Michael Miller said.


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