Art can tell the story of a community, spirit, and aspirations by honoring the past, and envisioning the future. The point of public art, is to help people form a sense that the place where they live is unique, and that there is something special about it. When a few city leaders and business owners convened at a local coffee shop roughly a year ago and daydreamed on how to improve the mental health in the community, this idea was pushed to the surface and a game plan was launched to make it happen.
“We have wanted to launch a project like this, but never more at a moment like this. After our community lost a wonderful high school senior to suicide, we knew we had to do something” shares Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce President/C.E.O. Ashton Pruitt. She adds, We know Greenbrier is special. We know that Greenbrier is a place that can shout the phrase “You Belong Here” to our citizens, to visitors, and people just passing through, and mean it. We want to remind them: YOU MATTER. YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU HAVE A VOICE. YOU ARE VALUED. YOU ARE RESPECTED.
“Small towns often give off a vibe that newcomers are not welcome, and that most certainly isn’t the case here. We want to give everyone a seat at the table” she adds. You can interpret many themes with the wall.
When choosing a wall in town, the biggest blank wall was the first choice, it was donated by Trinity Development on the side of Dollar Tree. Artist Jessica Jones was up for the challenge. After sketching out the butterflies and flowers the harmonious “You Belong Here.” Her art grabs your attention even more on the wall, than it could ever on a piece of paper. Jones, along with her team, created the vision that exceeded everyone's expectations.
(Artist, Jessica Jones)
Funding for the wall would have not happened without The Greenbrier Chamber of Commerce, City of Greenbrier, First Arkansas Bank and Trust, private donations from citizens and additional assistance through grants from the Community Foundation, Josh Farris with Modern Woodmen of America, and the Greenbrier Area Arts Council.
(Josh Farris, with Modern Woodmen of America shown above secured a $1500 grant for the project)
Special thank you to Casey Davis, with Southern Pro Outdoor Services for power washing the wall to prepare it for the priming portion done by Jonathan Shofner. Shofner’s materials were donated by Sherwin Williams and Whit Davis to paint the backdrop turquoise. Graham Brother’s Electric assisted everyone with the use of the electric lift that was pivotal to the project. The wall is close to 3,000 square feet.
(Jonathan Shofner, shown above, jump started the project and painted the blank wall turquoise after priming.)
A dedication ceremony was held May 17th to celebrate its completion. It featured special speakers from the community from LifeSavers, The Greenbrier Area Arts Council, Katelyn Coney from InSync Counseling, Mayor Sammy Joe Hartwick, and Ashton Pruitt. The dedication was topped off with a prayer from Pastor Freddie Mark Wilcox and powder cannons.
To learn more about Jessica and her amazing work, check out her website at artbyjessicajones.com