With construction set to begin later this month on the new parking deck at the Washington County Courthouse, questions are now being raised as to what may become of one beloved piece of public art currently on display in Fayetteville.
In 1999, “The Lovely Mural” was dedicated on the east side of the parking lot of what was then the Fayetteville Public Library. The 15-by-25 foot scene “depicts the history of Washington County through the representation of a diverse group of people who helped shape their community,” according to words painted on the lower left corner of the mural.
Local artist Ben Crofoot, Caroline Miles, and Story Matkin-Rawn organized the community mural project back in 1998.
There are 44 historic places and individuals depicted on the mural, and over 50 local artists from the community as well as a local Brownie troupe, and a 4th grade class from St. Joseph’s elementary contributed to the work, created from May, 1998 through its dedication in July of 1999.
The library has since moved into its current location, and later this month, VCC, LLC will begin the demolition process to make way for the new parking deck at the Washington County Courthouse, leaving the fate of the mural up in the air.
The Lovely Mural on Dickson Street
Washington County Chief of Staff Dan Short said he will look to the artist community in Fayetteville for solutions on how to preserve the mural.
“We’ve just begun to think this thing through. I’ve commissioned with Steve Moore who does panoramic photography work, and I’ve asked him to go and preserve it photographically for us,” Short told us.
“We are currently looking at how we may be able to cut the mural into smaller pieces, and move it to a new location,” Short said. “We will look at the cost, time, and effort for moving the mural and go from there.
“I’ve also talked to Mr. Hank Kaminsky, and he is going to try to raise some support and hopefully get some ideas on how to preserve the mural other than photographically,” Short said.
Kaminsky, chair of the Fayetteville Arts Council, said that Short and County Judge Marilyn Edwards have expressed a deep concern for the preservation of the artwork.
“The county government is acting in good faith, and they want to resolve this thing properly,” Kaminsky said. “Unfortunately, there is precious little information about how to remove a mural on a concrete wall.”
Kaminsky also said that the destruction of the mural may violate the Visual Artists Rights Act, a federal law intended to protect the rights of visual artists.
Brad Hammond, President of McGoodwin, Williams and Yates, the firm who designed the new deck said the mural was considered in the design, but did not feel that saving the mural was a viable option.
“We’re considering options right now.” Hammond said. “We weren’t able to save the mural or reuse it (in the design of the new deck), but we’re considering options that the county might have for similar type work.”
Kaminsky is looking for community input, and ideas for how to save the mural as well. Those who would like to assist in the preservation of the mural may contact him directly, at 479-283-4842.