Murals are a unique and popular way to promote tourism in a destination and create a source of pride for residents. They’re also fun spots for selfies that can transform a neglected area into a creative, artistic attraction. Beyond the obvious, murals – like all art – tell a story, sometimes even a history. The magnitude of a mural enables the story to be bigger and bolder, more detailed, than other artforms. Here’s the story of Clarksville’s two public murals.
Bursting with Pride, 106 Franklin St.
Franklin Street is a food, shopping and entertainment center of the city. Because of its prime location, thousands of people pass by and stop to admire Bursting with Pride. Since it measures 10,000 square feet, it is hard to miss!
Bursting with Pride is a 10,000 square foot mural created by artist and Austin Peay State University alum Ricky Deel in the summer of 2000 that depicts some of the city’s most historic buildings.
What may not be obvious at first glance is that the mural depicts 15 buildings in Clarksville of historical and architectural significance that were damaged by the, now infamous, F4 tornado that struck Clarksville on Friday, Jan. 22, 1999. The tornado ravaged the city, damaging 562 buildings and destroyed 128 more.
In the mural, the buildings are randomly placed; separated by trees, under a cloud-filled, blue sky in a panoramic view. As impressive as the sheer size of the piece is, equally impressive is the level of detail painted into the subjects and background.
It is painted on the side of a three-story brick building that overlooks a parking lot adjacent to the Roxy Regional Theatre.
Ricky painted the mural in the summer every day for three months. After the mural was unveiled as a part of the re-grand opening for downtown Clarksville, Ricky allowed prints to be sold as part of the fundraising efforts for downtown reconstruction and renovation.
Ricky was born in Hopkinsville, Ky. and studied painting and sculpture at Austin Peay. He currently lives in Seward, Alaska.
Clarksville Starry Night, 420 Madison St.
Clarksville's Starry Night is a 120' wide x 40' tall mural created by artist Olasubomi Aka-Bashorum. The mural was unveiled in February 2018 and became an immediate must-see among Clarksville’s public art and attractions.
Depicting the influences of Vincent van Gogh, the mural showcases two iconic Clarksville spired buildings, the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center and the Montgomery County Courthouse, beneath the distinctive starry night sky.
"We talked a lot at a local deli about things that the city would like, and accept, in a mural, and through talking with several different people, it came down to this theme that is being created," Aka-Bashorun told The Leaf-Chronicle. "Through the Starry Night creation, I felt that it would be awesome for the buildings to seem to disappear into the nighttime skies, as daylight ended each day.""
The project was funded by Two Rivers Company, a non-profit entity charged with the redevelopment of the downtown and Riverfront areas, along with private donations.
Private Business Murals
More murals on privately owned buildings are also visible around the city. Ola also painted Hi-Five Clarksville at 108 N. Second St. and the God Bless Clarksville mural at 109 Strawberry on the backside of Mildred & Mable’s. The colorful Keep Sango Social is at The Thirsty Goat. Welcome to Downtown Clarksville is at King's Bluff Brewery and the I Believe in Clarksville can be found on an outbuilding at A Tennessee Tiny House Airbnb.
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Marlon Scott, Austin Peay State University, contributed to this post.