Large mural

Melanie Laten discusses the proposed mural during a recent work session of the mayor and aldermen.

Plans are in the works for a large-scale mural and possibly a series of murals that would celebrate the rich and diverse heritage of downtown Fayetteville while also providing somewhat of a screen along the back of the west side of the Fayetteville square.

Melanie Laten, a local artist who also has Laten’s Bed and Breakfast on West Washington Street, shared her vision with the Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen during its work session Thursday.

Explaining that the Fayetteville-Lincoln County Arts Center has applied to the Tennessee Arts Commission for a Creative Placemaking grant, Laten said she had been thinking of the idea for a while when she and the Arts Center decided to collaborate on the project.

“I pass by the west side of the square probably three or four times a day, and I’ve noticed that it kind of needs some aesthetic improvement,” she said. “It’s been described as almost like a wound in terms of the backside of those buildings.

“I’ve been incubating an idea for a long time of a mural that would basically cover that space,” she continued, describing a series of billboard-size murals that would stand on panels about eight feet out from the backside of the buildings, each covering a 20- by 32-foot space.

At the western gateway to the public square, the mural’s image would be based on a photograph of the front of the buildings as they stood about a hundred years ago, said Laten, noting that artwork itself could involve upwards of 100 people, from artists to students to people simply wishing to be involved. The work would be done in a pointillism style, a technique of painting in which relatively small, distinct dots are applied in patterns to form an image, done in a grid fashion. Three students, who have won art scholarships offered by the center in conjunction with the Rotary Club, would serve as project directors.

“Potentially, I would like to see us do is a series of murals across that back side,” she said. “I think there’s an opportunity to turn this little section of town into almost a municipal park, with park benches and in-ground solar lighting to up-light the mural. I think we can actually enhance that section of town to the point where it actually is a delightful place for people to come and have a cup of coffee and sit out there and enjoy it and have pictures made and that kind of thing.”

Too, the project would serve as somewhat of a history lesson in as far as how the square appeared a century ago.

Letters to property owners have gone out in recent weeks, she said, noting that she would like to see the backside of those buildings painted in a neutral color. “The responses I’ve received thus far have been very positive.”

Laten submitted the grant proposal to the Tennessee Arts Commission on Jan. 22, she said, adding that she hopes to secure an $8,000 grant that would be met with a $2,000 match from the Arts Center. She hopes to learn whether the proposal is accepted by the first of June, and if it is, the project would be executed by mid-September.

With a background in art history background, Laten said she taught in Birmingham for 32 years before moving to Fayetteville and opening up a business.

“I have a vested interest in this community in as far as enhancing it and making it so that the kids that I’m working with and the citizens that I’m working with will really appreciate that end of town without closing their eyes as they drive by,” she added.

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