“Preserving History” Mural at City Hall and the Historic African American Shotgun House

The “Preserving History” mural by Devon Clarkson and Norma Clark will start to take form at the back of City Hall in late October 2019. Because the mural will also form a backdrop to the Historic African American Shotgun House, the Arts and Culture Board worked with the non-profit that operates the Shotgun House – Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association – to identify a theme that is important to the surrounding neighborhood and the constituents of the GCCMA. After reviewing several resources on the history of the neighborhood and meetings with GCCMA, a major theme that emerged was preserving history during a time of integration. While the major achievement of integration was the equality of access to services and educational opportunities to all groups of people in the community, another consideration was the importance of preserving history and culture during this period of major growth and change. When facilitating any growth and innovative changes within a community, such as the creation of public art murals and the construction of innovative programming spaces, it’s important to honor the culture and history of the area. The theme of integration can be applied to all scenarios that require a collaboration between different groups across generations and cultures: from integrating schools, to making way for rapid growth and development within a City, to the collaboration between artists of different levels of experience and styles.

Mary Smith Bailey was chosen as the subject of the “Preserving History” mural because she was an important local figure who helped steward many children in Georgetown through a period of historic growth and change. In 1953, Mary Bailey founded The West Side Kindergarten, the first preschool in the area to offer educational preschool services to non-white children. She believed that “preschool children benefit most from an educational environment that helps them develop self-confidence, the ability to get along with and help others, and the desire to learn. Today, hundreds of students and many changes later, the Mary Bailey [Head Start] Center continues to teach Georgetown children of all races the importance of learning”. (Histories of Pride, Thirteen Pioneers Who Shaped Georgetown’s African American Community)

Local portrait artist, Devon Clarkson, will paint the image of Mary Smith Bailey as the focal point of the mural. Devon’s experience includes local art exhibitions, as well as being the selected poster artist for the 20th Anniversary Red Poppy poster. Norma Clark, a local artist and graduate from Southwestern University, will create a montage of inspired abstract images that can be recognized as children and students participating in athletic and educational activities. Norma is an established professional artist whose experience includes numerous solo and group exhibitions across Central Texas. The collaboration of these two artists represents the integration of different artist styles to create something innovative and new while honoring and preserving culture and history.

On Thursday, October 24th, the Arts and Culture Board will host a community painting party for community members to come out and help paint portions of the mural.  For more information on how to participate, please click here.

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