Tuesday, August 04, 2015

TOP STORY >> Beebe mural unites community

Melba Brackin, who helped organize the painting of this mural on Main Street in Beebe, stands in front of the masterpiece that honors soldiers with artist Thomas Fernandez, an instructor at ASU-Beebe.


Special to The Leader

The interest in Beebe’s first mural has been overwhelming.

The July weather couldn’t have been hotter as Thomas Fernandez, an art instructor at ASU-Beebe, began transforming the west wall of the Wilbur Mills Co-op building on Main Street into a military mural called “Brothers and Sisters.”

The simplicity of the mural as a silhouette is very striking. It depicts service members from all wars and conflicts — from the Doughboys and Yeomanettes of World War I to the modern soldier — and represents all four branches of the military.

The soldiers’ images blend into the USS Arkansas battleship, while a C-130 flies overhead near a soldier carrying the American flag.

People in the community, including schoolchildren and their parents, began to come to give a word of thanks and encouragement as the project unfolded. Some visited with artists Bill and Tina Song and Toni Spradlin, a business instructor at ASU-Beebe, who brought her niece and nephew.

“These three artists have worked full time from day one. We took off only during some of the extremely hot hours of the day. As it got hotter, we started earlier in the mornings and worked until about 2 p.m., coming back later, working as late as we could,” Fernandez said.

One veteran who came to look at the mural said, “It reminds me of myself when I was in the service and the different military people I came to know. I’ve been there; I know that person — they’re my brothers and sisters.”

When Fernandez heard the remark, he immediately had the title for the mural.

Fernandez and I thank everyone who contributed to the success of the mural, the city of Beebe for being the sponsor, the chamber of commerce for providing the awning, food and water, First Security Bank and Union Valley Baptist Church.

“We couldn’t have done any of this without Horance Taylor. The city brought in a crane and he operated it. He came in the evening after work,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez came to ASU-Beebe from Arkadelphia in the fall of 2012, when Bill Long retired. The next time he paints another mural, it won’t be in July.

(Editor’s note: Melba Brackin helped organize the painting of Beebe’s mural on Main Street.)