Beautifying Downtown: Art students paint murals for local businesses

Release Date: 5/16/2013

In conjunction with the Clarksville-Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, recent University of the Ozarks art graduates Rikki Runyan and Carlos Ramirez began painting murals on facades of downtown buildings as a way to beautify the downtown area and connect Ozarks with the Clarksville community.

Runyan, a McGehee, Ark., native who graduated on May 11 with a degree in art and English, is spear-heading the efforts to display a bit of Ozarks creativity in downtown Clarksville.

According to Runyan, the idea originated during one of the first meetings of the newly-formed Community Advisory Board, a group of Ozarks students working with Clarksville Chamber CEO Travis Stephens to find ways for Ozarks and Clarksville to become more integrated.

"At one of the first Community Advisory Board meetings, I suggested art students both from Ozarks and Clarksville High School paint murals along the concrete wall of the jogging trail where it intersects Main Street," Runyan said. "Unbeknownst to me, Travis was simultaneously putting together a committee to pursue decorating the downtown area with murals. I, along with several students from Ozarks' art department, was invited to help out in design."

Runyan and Ramirez, also a 2013 art major graduate, completed the first of the downtown murals on the storefront of the Fashion Boutique just recently. Runyan was pleased to see her ideas coming to life.

"It's been a wonderful experience observing this project evolve from scattered ideas shared around a conference table into an organized list of designs and the beginnings of murals," she said.

Runyan will remain in Clarksville this summer and plans to be involved with as many murals as possible.

"I hope to remain involved in the process of design and execution for my remaining time here in Clarksville. Though my life plans will most likely carry me away from Clarksville at some point, I have a deep sense of connection to this place," Runyan said. "I am grateful for everything that both the town and the university have done to shape my development as a person, and I hope to contribute to both Ozarks and Clarksville in any way I can."

Murals

Art students from University of the Ozarks are involved in a project to decorate many of the buildings in downtown Clarksville with murals.