Although west Plano’s booming business growth is the talk of the town these days, most Planoites would agree the heart of the city is in historic downtown, where Plano’s first commercial district sprang up in the mid 1800s. Cotton farms, Shepard’s mule barn, Forman’s post office, the Spanish School – although long gone, places like these laid the foundation for what Plano would become.
The hope is that the treasures of Plano’s past will be honored for generations to come. This morning, the Historic Downtown Plano Association (HDPA) and Plano Art Association (PAA) announced the downtown Plano mural project, which will not only reinforce downtown Plano’s position as an arts district but also preserve the city’s heritage and culture.
With the focus that downtown Plano has put on the arts these past few years and the recent Texas Commission for the Arts designation as a cultural district, an investment in large-scale public art is the next natural step. The City of Plano’s 15th Street Portal Project is already in the works, which will see an artist install freestanding artworks along 15th Street between Central Expressway and G Avenue sometime this summer.
The Plano mural project is a joint effort between HDPA and PAA, made possible with a grant from the city’s Heritage Commission. Three murals will be created: one relief mural at the crosswalk between Angela’s at the Crosswalk and La Foofaraw, one painted mural on the west exterior side of Vickery Park facing the DART tracks and one painted mural at a location still to be determined.
A call to artists begins today on the Plano Mural website. HDPA and PAA hope to land one Texas artist and one international artist to create the murals. The call to artists will be open through February. In March the final artists will be chosen, and installation is expected to begin in April, hopefully during the week of Plano Artfest.
Alex Hargis, executive director for HDPA, announced that an advisory council “made up of some the best thinkers, artists and historians in all of Plano” will decide the final artists and ensure historical accuracy for the murals. The council includes representatives from HDPA, PAA, ArtCentre of Plano, the Heritage Commission, Plano Library System, Heritage Farmstead Museum and Plano City Council.
Joshua King, a Dallas-based artist and co-founder of the annual Dallas art event Aurora, also joins the mural advisory council with experience producing art events. “Projects like this are really important not only for heritage of a city and a community but to highlight the future of a culture of a city,” said Joshua. He continued, “When a city is willing to put the financial security behind a project, that’s when the arts can grow. So this should be something the community and the city of Plano should be very proud of.”
And downtown Plano wants your help in this project. Not only will the artists pull inspiration from existing historic photos archived by the Plano Genealogy Center, but they will also use your family photos to create their masterpiece. So dig in your great-grandma’s hope chest or your grandpappy’s old albums to see how your photos can contribute to this celebration of Plano’s past.
“We want this mural project to be one for every single person in Plano. We want every single person to be able to put their hands on this project and, when they look at these pieces twenty years from now, say ‘I had a part in that,’” said Alex.
Photos can be submitted three ways:
- At the Plano Mural website
- On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, use #planomural to submit your photo
- Bring photos to Haggard Library Genealogy Center at 2501 Coit Rd. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in January and February from 10am-2pm. Volunteers will help residents scan their photos.