Artist Joel Boyd has completed a trio of murals at the corner of South Main and 2nd Street in downtown Hope. The project has been a work in progress since last year, and was funded by the Hope Downtown Network and the Arkansas Heritage Program.
Boyd pitched his ideas for the murals and the agreed-upon designs now grace the side of the Chamber building that faces 2nd Street. Each vibrantly colored mural is 9 ½ feet tall and features a snapshot of something for which Hope is famous.
The first features Paul W. Klipsch, a Hope native whose revolutionary speakers are still manufactured over 70 years later. The second shows off Hope’s tastiest claim to fame, the “locally grown, worldly known” watermelons grown by the Bright family. The final mural features Hope’s “sportsman’s paradise” with Arkie the Alligator front and center. Arkie was a record-setting specimen in 1952 who weighed in at 500 lbs.
Boyd comes from the town of Rector in northeast Arkansas, and set out after high school to pursue a degree in painting. He headed for Atlanta, Georgia, and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design. After college, he lived in Chicago briefly while his wife attended graduate school, working on some early commissions. After returning to Arkansas, he taught art for students from kindergarten to 12th Grade. He now works in Little Rock as a full-time artist, painting murals part-time.
When asked where the work fit in his portfolio, Boyd opined, “It’s definitely some of my best. This project was very detailed. There’s a lot of history in this artwork and a lot of careful precision. It took me a little longer than I expected, mainly because of the heat, but I’m proud of how it turned out, and it fits really well here on the Chamber building and adds a splash of color to downtown.”
Boyd said there are a lot of opportunities for mural artists right now. Projects like this one, he said, are really active because many cities and towns are looking to revitalize their downtown areas.
This sentiment was echoed by Mayor Don Still at the dedication ceremony for the murals Tuesday morning.
“If a street could talk, this would definitely be the street for Hope, Arkansas,” Still said. He added that making downtown “Facebook ready” is a priority, and that the next project should be a pocket park.