Gearing up for the Install
The Joplin, MO Mural Project
From The Studios of Garin Baker
April 21tst, 2014
Bet E 7th & E 8th Street on S. Main St., Joplin, MO
Mural wall 95 ft long by 20 ft at its highest point.
Located smack dab in the Heartland of the US of A is the small city of Joplin, MO. Situated in the southwest corner of Missouri with a population of around 200 thousand. At one time it was the mecca of the Midwest for zinc production and the Performing Arts, boasting everything made of steel was coated with zinc from Joplin, keeping America from rusting away for almost 100 years. It was also quite the snappy little town with several Performing Arts Theaters and many a famous performer from LA to New York traveling through along Route 66, playing the "Circuit" heading to and from Chicago.
Like many small cities through out the country, industrial contraction and the loss of major manufacturing caused commercial and economic decline but with Joplin, tenacity and self reliance, the people have always taken the blows and come back swinging. Adding to all of this, 3 years ago, practically 1/3 of Joplin was obliterated by one of the largest tornados ever recorded in human history. A mile wide by 13 miles long, (that's roughly the size of the island of Manhattan), over 150 lives were lost, 500 business, a major regional hospital, schools, churches,..... all ripped an blown apart in a matter of minutes.
Looking west along 20th St., Joplin MO, 2011
Since then the revitalization has been massive, new homes, schools, hospital and churches. Construction is everywhere. The downtown is lively again with art walks, music festivals and restaurants of all national and international flavors.
Back in 2012 and the early spring 2013 I was invited by The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to begin working on a large scale Public Art Mural located in the middle of downtown. When I first arrived I was amazed, never experiencing what I was about to see. Looking out as far as the horizon there was complete devastation. Yes I was in lower Manhattan after 9/11 but this went on for miles. I was awestruck and thought how could one possibly tell this story with just one wall of art. What surprised me more than anything was the desire not to dwell on the devastation and heartache but to reach back to their past and with all its spirit, begin again, building their future. This truly profound message was a lesson taught to me so poignantly by so many I spoke with personally, quietly yet passionately demonstrating what I can only express as the "mid western character'.
Plans for a new performing arts center and what we all could do together celebrating Joplin's future. So after much discussion and revising of preconceived notions I set about the task of researching all the grand and spectacular performing arts venues that had existed in Joplin's past. The long gone and demolished Club Theater, its rowdy entertainment during the 1900s and how it stood as a beacon on bustling East 4th Street a block west of City Hall. Crowds would make their way there on a Friday and Saturday evening after a long week working in the mines. The Fox Theater with its classical interior filled with wonderful marble statues and decretive motifs would entertain social elites and theater goes until the 1970's. And now symbolically looking past the twisting of tumultuous times of the past, the beautiful faces of youthful dancers, stretching, rehearsing, and expressing the simple joy and optimism about Joplin's collective future.
Approved Mural Design Maquette
The Design was approved in the fall of 2013 which allowed me several months to paint in my New York Studio in 36 sections, each measuring 5 ft. wide x 10- 8 ft long, using nova colors on Parachute cloth.
My rolling studio palate and several detail images of the work in progress below:
All the Mural sections have been rolled, shipped and have arrive safely in Joplin, MO.
During all of next week we'll be installing on site with an unavailing and dedication ceremony scheduled for Sunday, May 4th 2014. If your any where near Joplin, MO on May 4th, come on by and join us for the culmination of this wonderful project.
I'm looking forward to finally seeing it all in one piece myself!
I'll be posting installation progress images on instagram @ garinb and facebook so check out my pages and follow when you can.
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Thanks for taking the time and hope you enjoy.