Murals Bring a Cool Factor and Tourists to Downtown Brownwood
Creativity is flourishing in downtown Brownwood, as artists are bringing color and life to businesses and buildings throughout the city.
The Rise of Murals as Social Media Influencer Destinations
If you spend any time at all on social media, particularly Instagram, you may have noticed a lot of photos of people in front of murals. Murals are now a popular selfie destination and people go out of their way to find interesting, colorful, and even educational art when traveling and share it on social media. Over the past few years, the city of Brownwood and many of its businesses have added enough murals to warrant our own mural trail, and there are only more murals on the way!
Meet One of the Artists Making Brownwood a Texas Mural Destination
Amanda Coers moved to Brownwood in the mid-90s to go to high school. While you might expect her backstory to be filled with art classes and countless hours watching Bob Ross paint happy little trees, it does not. Amanda was more interested in comic books and comic book art than painting when she was younger, but she loved to watch her great-grandmother paint. She was always amazed by her work but was intimidated by the idea of being able to be a great painter, despite the encouragement of her great-grandmother and the rest of her family. Amanda did find a way to scratch the creative itch when she was 17 when the owners at Steves’ Market & Deli Steves allowed her to draw their customers for tip money.
Discovering a Hidden Talent
About 6 years ago, Amanda attended an event that was held by the Brownwood Art Association called “Muse and Merlot” which was essentially a painting party. She discovered that she actually was a pretty good painter and got involved with the Association and helped plan and coordinate the parties. Amanda got connected with other artists in the community and began to build a network and made connections that led to the commission of her first mural. While Amanda was busy making new connections, it was an old connection, the owners of Steves’ that asked Amanda to paint the back of their building. “It felt surreal to do a painting and have someone offer to pay for it,” Amanda said. “I did not know what I was doing, it was a learn-as-you-go process.”
Sharing the Love of Art With Family
Today, Amanda is married with 7 children and works for the city of Brownwood, as well as finishing up a degree. So while other artists might be able to complete a mural more quickly, her very full life requires a couple of weekends for Amanda to complete a mural, but recently her daughter Vivian has started to join Amanda on her projects, and “that has been really cool…watching her grow and surpass me in many ways as an artist just in her early 20s.” Amanda and her daughter also recently finished a new mural at Humphrey Pete’s that features flying pigs, which ties perfectly with their logo.
The Impact Murals and Art Have on the City
Amanda recently completed a research project as part of her degree program to study the impact of mural-based tourism on rural communities. “People want to see the murals, and then they find everything else Brownwood has to offer,” Amanda said, “it also enhances the lives of citizens just to be exposed to art on a daily basis. It makes us happier. Public art gives us more chances to have well-rounded lives.”
Highlighting Some of the Murals and Their Artists
One of the cool things about murals are that they can depict anything and can be painted on just about anything. The Painted Poppies at Davis Floral is painted on a shipping container and features vibrant colors, The Texas Flag Wall located outside of Waylon and Rays makes for great Texas themed photos, one of the more unique murals is the Cat & Fish Mural covering the entire back wall at Steves’ Market & Deli painted by Amanda, and a great new mural of a Vintage Truck was recently added at the Duke Street shop. These are just a few of the beautiful murals you can find around Brownwood.
More Murals on the Way!
Brownwood now has over a dozen murals all over the city, with more on the way. When we asked Amanda which mural was her favorite, she mentioned the new one that was just finished is definitely going to be her favorite. Celebrated Central Texas artist Calina Mishay Johnson painted a mural at Pat Coursey Park that is big and bold. The design for the mural features wild horses running through water with vibrant colors. Calina is also the artist of the cactus mural painted in July of 2017 outside of Rex’s Texas Lanes during a remodel of the bowling alley.
If You Could Add Another Mural It Would Be?
We asked Amanda this question and she said that she would love to see more painters and artists come to Brownwood and share their talent. While she loves painting murals, she is ready to see what others can do, including Tony Bryant, who is finishing a mural on the Red Wagon restaurant. “Tony’s painting is traditional and he is extremely talented and he is moving to the area, so that is very exciting for us!” Amanda also shared that specifically she would love to see more diversity in the local mural painters and believes that history, representation, and diversity is important. A recent mural featuring an underrepresented mother openly breastfeeding in a tasteful way by a local artist was a step toward creating dialog and ties directly with the purpose of the Health Department Building. “I want Brownwood to feel like home for everyone, “ Amanda said.
Art and Modern Connectivity
Amanda shared that she is excited about social media making art more interactive. People can now connect with the artists through their social media accounts and get to know not only the painting but the artist and all of their work and even make a personal connection. While history books study classic artists, we may have missed out on some great artists by being too focused on the past, when we have talented people right in front of us! This is what is great to see about the conversations and connections that can be made, so don’t just tag your friends in that mural selfie, tag the artist, you never know what might happen!
Final Words of Advice
“Today, I have paintings of my great grandmother in my home, and now my paintings are starting to look like hers,” Amanda said. “It has been an amazing way to connect with her even though she is gone.” I want anyone to know that if you are intimidated by art or think you can’t do it, take a leap of faith and give it a try.”I would be thrilled to see what they could do on the walls.” Amanda also offered to connect with anyone interested in giving painting a shot!