Mural brings new life


Kjersti McDonald, The Chart

Sarah Clark, sophomore art education major (front), Brett Dorrance, sophomore graphic design major (middle) and Burt Bucher, associate professor of art (back) add the final touches to the Joplin Downtown Gateway Mural on Sunday, Sept. 14 located north of Covert Electric Supply on Main Street.

Campus, community come together

The Downtown Joplin Alliance and Missouri Southern’s art group Focal Point have been collaborating for the past two years to create the Downtown Joplin Gateway Mural. The mural, on north Main Street between A and B Street, was completed this week and dedicated on Sept. 18 as part of the Third Thursday event.

Burt Bucher, associate professor of art at Southern, said that Trisha Patton, director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance, contacted Focal Point about the project two years ago.

Patton said the public art movement which began a little over two years ago prompted her to do more to beautify areas of downtown Joplin. The plot of land where the mural sits is owned by Covert

Electric Supply, and the old billboards there were ineligible for advertising because of their large size and proximity to the road. When Patton approached CES about covering the old billboards with a mural, they told her if she could get clearance from the city, the billboards were all hers.

“We really wanted to activate this gateway into downtown Joplin by having something bright and beautiful that also tells some of [Joplin’s] history,” Patton said.

According to Bucher, the mural depicts Joplin in the 1920s, showing people walking around downtown near the old bus lane and trolley. This black and white scene transforms to a brightly colored present-day downtown, featuring the crowd and cyclists at Third Thursday and the city’s new trolley.

“The idea was that as an outsider moving here, people always talked about how it used to be so great in Joplin and they don’t like being here anymore,” said Bucher, “and we were trying to point out that it is good and it’s growing and you kind of have to look at what you’ve got; you know, the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Between the old-Joplin scene and the new-Joplin scene is George A. Spiva, a philanthropist known in Joplin for his donations to Southern’s library and art gallery, and the Spiva Center for the Arts downtown.

“We are what we used to be,” said Bucher. “We put Spiva in the center as the delivery system that got us there.”

Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean and Southern President Alan Marble spoke at the dedication and ribbon cutting for the mural. Patton and Bucher also thanked all who volunteered to complete this project for their time and efforts.