First Of Downtown Mural Series Completed (LSU: The Daily Reveille)

First of downtown mural series completed
Walls Project aims to brighten BR
By Danielle Kelley

Published: Monday, June 25, 2012

Downtown Baton Rouge is getting a facelift, and phase one is complete.

The BR Walls Project is orchestrating the painting of multiple murals downtown. The finishing strokes were painted Monday on the first project, located at the corner of Florida and Third Street.

The mural, painted by Saliha Staib and Clark Derbes, is titled "Cinq Umbre" and consists of multi-colored quadrangles.

"I think with the design, we were trying to make something elegant, but fun," University alumnus Derbes said.

People of all demographics stopped to view the progress on the mural last week, the paint-caked Derbes said. The accessibility of the artwork will make all aware of Baton Rouge's culture, he noted.

Staib said she hopes the mural will bring city-wide attention to local artists.

"It will bring art for the public eye," she said in her French accent. "I just want to encourage art in the city."

The project is part of the recent downtown revival by the Downtown Development District, and co-curator Kathryn Thorpe said its purpose is to aesthetically improve Baton Rouge.

"Our intention is to bring more art and culture into Baton Rouge. We've lived here for about a year," Thorpe said. "There's a ton of artists... but you just can't tell when you're visiting Baton Rouge."

Building owner Daniel McGlynn said more murals will bring Baton Rouge's downtown up to par with other cities'.

"It'd just be a brighter, happier place," he said. "I hope they continue to do this mid-city and elsewhere."

McGlynn noticed members of BR Walls Project eyeing his building months ago, and donated the wall-space after the individuals explained the idea.

"It was large, visible and easy," he said, regarding the wall.

McGlynn noted the murals will add "a little fun, a little color, a little energy" to the downtown environment. Co-curator Casey Phillips said he has intentions of doing so.

"We believe that art can help connect our entire city together and expose a unified identity to express the soul of one of the great cities of the South," Phillips said in an e-mail.

BR Walls Project plans to paint other walls downtown after the summer heat fades. The next one will be at either Boudreaux & Thibodeaux's, the Mentorship Academy or Harrington's Cafe, according to Phillips.

The artists were chosen by the project's board, which consists of a jury of more than 50 museum and gallery directors, building owners and local artists.

BR Walls Project is made possible by Baton Rouge residents' donations through a Kickstarter campaign and sponsorships from local companies.

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