The south rendering of the mural will serve as a reminder that Lebanon is home, even when someone leaves. 
Submitted renderings
The south rendering of the mural will serve as a reminder that Lebanon is home, even when someone leaves. Submitted renderings
With a 6-1 vote July25, Lebanon city council approved $50,000 to be appropriated for the city’s newest mural, which will cover both sides of the train overpass on Ind. 32.

Months ago, Lebanon hosted its first community creative callout, inviting a group of Lebanon residents interested in fostering art in Lebanon. Two brainstorming sessions and a celebration later, the mockup for the murals was complete.

“We’re thrilled to be able to have our creatives really come up with a plan and idea and then be able to have [Scott Trafford] be able design it,” Community Development Coordinator Joe LePage said.

Each side of the mural will tell a different story.

“It was an amazing and educational moment for me to see the amount of creativity that has not necessarily been under wraps, but has not been celebrated in our community over the years,” LePage said. “Each side of the mural is separate but at the same time, it’s connected,” LePage explained.

The north mural design features a large welcome message surrounded by small mementos that have a connection to Lebanon. Images include the outline and rings of a cedar tree, referring to Lebanon’s name and a detailed rendering of the Boone County Courthouse, one of Lebanon’s most recognizable landmarks.

The south mural reminds viewers that, “this is home,” with nods to two of Lebanon’s famous residents, Rick Mount and Mel Kenyon. Behind the welcome message is the outline of Lebanon’s street map and the city’s founding seal to finish it off.

Next to the south mural is an inlet area, which will be a part of phase two of the murals that will build a pocket park celebrating other Lebanon legends.

Phase one involves the two murals and will include multiple community paint days, something LePage said would create a sense of ownership in those who come to paint. The second phase of the project will be addressed at a later date.

Throughout August, residents will be able to come out during days and times, yet to be announced, and help paint the mural under Trafford’s supervision.

Trafford designed and painted the ocean themed murals along Lafayette Avenue and another outside of That Sports Bar.

“I’ve done a lot of research and talked to a lot of other artists about doing paint days and we don’t do them a lot because there’s some cleanup work involved and extra time on the mural, but then it’s Trafford said the mural should take about six weeks to complete, depending on weather, and should be done in early September.

Benefits

Art tourism is something that has been on a steady incline for many years. According to a study from the University of Central Arkansas, public art can be used as a tool for economic development at the local level.

“Arts programs and quality- of-place initiatives are the minimum price of admission when competing in a global marketplace for jobs and investment,” President and CEO of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce Tim Allen said in a news release. “On a local level, community murals and other arts initiatives encourage a sense of excitement among the citizens and promote reinvestment in downtown.”

With all of the public art being introduced to Lebanon, LePage said city officials are starting to see benefits it brings to the city. While there may not be concrete numbers to attach to how art benefits cities, many cities around the country have become public art destinations, like Charleston, Denver and Richmond.

“When people come to Lebanon and are thinking about moving or working here, they drive around,” Lebanon City Councilman Mike Kincaid said. “Those of us who live here, drive around and don’t see stuff because we’ve seen it a million times, but those who don’t live here see things in more detail, and these types of things really stick out to them.”

Councilman Dick Robertson also offered his support for the mural.

“I like [public art] I think it’s neat,” Robertson said. “I think it’s attractive and when you come in. It makes you remember that community. Just like our sign out on (Ind.) 39, a lot of people don’t like that, or they think it’s a waste of money. But the people I see and talk to, they remember Lebanon from that sign. Same thing about the murals. When people come in and out of town, people are going to remember Lebanon for a mural they saw, and this one being on a gateway into town is going to be a good location for something like this.”

During the meeting, the longevity of the mural was questioned. Trafford said the surface under the mural will be thoroughly prepped to make the paint last longer.

The colors selected are ones from the city’s general color palette: blue and yellow and also ones that will fade nicely over time, Trafford said.

The one dissenting vote came from councilman Brent Wheat, who called the murals, a “want, not a need,” but said he was conflicted because it will be “great marketing.

“In the future, we need to look for needs, rather than wants,” Wheat said.

The $50,000 will come from the city’s casino and riverboat fund earnings and will cover artist cost, scaffolding and lifts, and community paint days.

“If you’ve not gone to the boats down in French Lick or the casino down in Evansville or up north, you’ve not paid for this at all,” Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry said. “This is just revenue we got from the State of Indiana. I think we’ve done a good job funding our needs from other revenue sources.”

The Lebanon Reporter will announce community paint dates as they become available.

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