31st Street Mural Project
The 31st Street Mural Project is located on the north side of the Conlee-Garret Moving & Storage building on W 31st St. The completed murals showcase a variety of painting styles and interpretations of Bryan. The local artists chosen were Cliff Collard, tattoo artist and owner of Arsenal Tattoo in Bryan, Sarah Blackmon, full-time sonographer and artist, Calina Mishay, street artist from Abilene, Tyler Kay, operator of Houston’s Bisong Art Gallery and Mick Burson, a Texas-native now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Location: 206 W 31st St, Bryan TX 77803
More info from The Battalion, 2017 by Nathan Brown
The completed murals showcase a variety of painting styles and interpretations of the city, ranging from Sarah Blackmon’s realist work “Downtown Bryan,” which depicts a menagerie of Bryan’s icons including the Queen Theatre, bluebonnets and a ten-gallon hat, to a more abstract piece by Mick Burson called “Eating Over the Kitchen Sink.”
The idea for the project was first conceived by mother-daughter duo Sarah Norman and Katie Neason, co-founders of real estate investment company Renovation Wranglers. The pair noticed the bare wall on the side of the Conlee-Garrett building while developing nearby town homes.
“We would look at that big blank wall and from the beginning we thought it would be neat to paint a mural on it,” Neason said. “But we could never agree on what we would paint on it or who we would get to paint.”
Somewhere along the way, the two had the idea to get multiple artists involved and make painting the wall a community project, Neason said. Things moved pretty quickly after that, and soon the Downtown Bryan Association and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley were involved in helping to spread the word and select the artists.
The artists were selected not only by the quality of their work, but also by their connection to the City of Bryan. This was in keeping with the theme of the project, Bryan’s past and present, according to the project’s website.
The local artists chosen were Cliff Collard, tattoo artist and owner of Arsenal Tattoo in Bryan, Sarah Blackmon, full-time sonographer and artist, Calina Mishay, street artist from Abilene, Tyler Kay, operator of Houston’s Bisong Art Gallery and Mick Burson, a Texas-native now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend graduate school.
Collard, whose mural features a portrait of William Joel Bryan, the city’s namesake, as well as a large bald eagle centerpiece, said he spent around 150 hours in total, working around his day job tattooing.
“After work, weekends, if I had a day off, or if I had someone cancel at work, I’d come over here and paint,” Collard said.
Despite the long hours in the sweltering summer heat, Collard says it was worth it.
“This is probably the best painting I’ve ever done,” he says with a wide smile, noting that it was also the biggest.
In contrast, Kay, who is currently in Greece conducting a community art project, almost exclusively paints large-scale works like murals.
“I really like to do large-scale works because you usually get to paint, and the whole public gets to enjoy them, they’re not just sitting in someone’s home” she said, adding that her favorite painting she’s done is a rose mural in Houston that is popular for engagement and graduation photos. “It’s something that makes me feel good if I can create something that other people can enjoy.”
Burson, who had previously been an artist in residence with the Arts Council of Brazos Valley in Navasota, took only three days to start and finish “Eating Over the Kitchen Sink,” the most abstract and brightly hued of the murals.
“I guess it is defined as abstract, but to me it just makes sense, so it doesn’t seem abstract,” Burson said. “It’s open ended I think.”
Blackmon, who has lived in Bryan for two years, said she chose to paint Downtown Bryan’s icons as well as symbols of old Bryan, like a wagon wheel, because she wanted her mural to represent the community.
“I wanted to do something that the local people could love, so I was like, ‘What’s something I can do to represent all the businesses that have been here the longest?'” Blackmon said.
Her latest mural, which can be found inside of the new Mad Taco in south College Station, of a heart breaking open and fruits and vegetables pouring out of it. Neason said she hopes to complete more murals soon.
“We are hoping that we’ll make more people realize opportunities to paint murals, which I think we’ve already had two more painted since we did this project,” Neason said. “So hopefully it’s working.”