More Murals Planned for Downtown St. Joe

Downtown Review Board will have to approve of all designs

By Alan Van Zandt |

Published 07/29 2015 11:18PM

Updated 07/29 2015 11:18PM

Recent controversy and cancelation of a planned mural for downtown St. Joseph hasn't slowed down downtown boosters.

On Thursday, it was announced that three more works of art will soon cover outdoor buildings in the city center.

"We are an arts and entertainment district. The more art and entertainment we can bring into the district, the better it is for everyone," said Rhabecca Boerkircher, Executive Director of the Downtown Partnership.

However, before being painted on outdoor walls downtown, the three designs will go in front of the Downtown Review Board for approval. This new process is in place after a design for a civil war era mural in June stirred controversy.

"The murals we put up should be in good taste, they should be well done," said Larry Buck, Chair of the review board. "They should be done with materials that will be long-lasting with longevity."

One design highlights St. Joseph's local music scene. Another is a nod to Native American heritage. The third is a second attempt at the Civil War mural, minus some of the confederate features that some had found offensive.

"We took that off, added a picture of Abraham Lincoln, the American flag and a picture of Fort Smith is on there now," Boerkircher said.

Daniel Ramming is an art teacher in the St. Joseph School District and created one of the sculptures on the Downtown Sculpture Walk. He supports the idea of murals downtown but is concerned about having to go through an approval process.

"It kind of makes me a little nervous from an artists point of view, from an activist in other ways, and an educator. It has a chilling effect on the arts," Ramming said.

Overall, Ramming loves the idea of more art in the city's center. Downtown boosters agree that it needs to be done in the right way.

"It used to be that anything goes downtown before the Precise Plan was in place," Boerkircher said. " Now we have a group of downtown people to review things to make sure it's appropriate for the downtown district.

There was no information on the total cost of the artwork. However, all three murals are being paid for out of private funds.

A fourth mural is being planned for a cemented area near the sidewalks of the Joyce Raye Patterson Senior Center

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