Much has rightly been made of the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, “Hometown Teams,” which celebrated its grand opening at the Marshall Public Library on Friday.
Marshall is the first of seven cities in Texas to host the exhibit, which focuses on hometown sports and includes oral histories from area students. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the exhibit, which is on display through April 28, attracted a standing-room-only crowd.
Which says something. It says something about people and our innate desire to connect not only with history, but with art. Which is why we’re also excited about a recently-announced endeavor in Jefferson, a town that is already rich in quaint, artistic beauty.
Richard H. Collins, founder of Collins Academy, announced earlier this month that he’s working to bring artists and sculptures to downtown, near the old bridge and the riverfront. The goal of the project, called “Art on the River,” will be to attract more visitors to the area via sculptures, artists-in-residence and even a stagecoach, which will be placed across the river next year and will be lit up and sitting on a base. The sculptures will also be lit, providing an outdoor presence to the park.
In addition, two internationally-known artists will create a major sculpture that will be placed in the grand circle of the park. That piece is scheduled to be unveiled by June of 2019.
All of these plans should only serve to enrich Jefferson’s already-thriving cultural atmosphere. Still, we offer two recommendations for the town to preserve its history while moving forward.
The News Messenger reported that one of the sculptures to be added in the park is of a pterodactyl. While we have nothing against extinct flying reptiles, how about adding other sculptures that would play more into the lore of the town? Much is always made of the legend of Bessie Moore, a.k.a. Diamond Bessie, who was killed in 1877 in the woods outside of town. As the new sculptures are being erected, we feel it’s time for Diamond Bessie to get her own likeness. Alongside the pterodactyl.
Our second suggestion: Put a halt on the murals that are now all over downtown. Some of them, such as the restored mural on the wall of the Haywood House, are lovely additions. Others look cartoonish. Another appears to be unfinished and resembles graffiti more than art. It’s becoming a bit much and is detracting from the town rather than enhancing it.
Those are minor quibbles for those of us who are fortunate to live in East Texas, which has an abundance of natural beauty. But it’s also wonderful to see that, right now, human-created beauty is also thriving.