Murals & Milestones

by Christina Cavazos

On what was once a plain brick wall, a young woman can now be seen holding a dandelion and blowing its petals into the wind. In the breeze, the petals transform into music notes that may leave viewers thinking about their favorite song. The mural called Spring Melody has transformed a simple wall in downtown Longview into a work of art.  It is one of many projects completed in 2021 by Arts!Longview, which is striving to enhance the visibility of the city’s Cultural District.

On what was once a plain brick wall, a young woman can now be seen holding a dandelion and blowing its petals into the wind. In the breeze, the petals transform into music notes that may leave viewers thinking about their favorite song. The mural called Spring Melody has transformed a simple wall in downtown Longview into a work of art.  It is one of many projects completed in 2021 by Arts!Longview, which is striving to enhance the visibility of the city’s Cultural District.

Murals & Milestones

by Christina Cavazos

On what was once a plain brick wall, a young woman can now be seen holding a dandelion and blowing its petals into the wind. In the breeze, the petals transform into music notes that may leave viewers thinking about their favorite song. The mural called Spring Melody has transformed a simple wall in downtown Longview into a work of art.  It is one of many projects completed in 2021 by Arts!Longview, which is striving to enhance the visibility of the city’s Cultural District.

On what was once a plain brick wall, a young woman can now be seen holding a dandelion and blowing its petals into the wind. In the breeze, the petals transform into music notes that may leave viewers thinking about their favorite song. The mural called Spring Melody has transformed a simple wall in downtown Longview into a work of art.  It is one of many projects completed in 2021 by Arts!Longview, which is striving to enhance the visibility of the city’s Cultural District.

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“Color for Your Ears” by Diego Baracaldo | 106 West Methvin Street

Arts!Longview’s goal this year was to bring attention to the Cultural District — to highlight the cultural organizations and businesses that are already there and to add artistic elements that would let visitors know where the district is.”

- Arts!Longview Executive Director Cynthia Hellen

In 2021, Arts!Longview accomplished its goal by bringing a variety of artistic elements to the district. Meanwhile, many of the city’s arts organizations celebrated milestones and achievements in 2021 that are setting the stage for an even greater future.

Arts!Longview Enhances Visibility

For Arts!Longview, Hellen said some of the most obvious accomplish-ments from 2021 are the most visible. The organization worked to enhance its visibility by installing banners and utility box wrappers and helping to bring murals to the district. The new additions in 2021 were made possible thanks to a $70,000 matching grant the Texas Commission on the Arts awarded to Arts!Longview in 2020.

In the spring of 2021, Arts!Longview installed 125 colorful banners throughout the Cultural District that welcome visitors. Jon Cromer, Arts!Longview’s board president, said the banners are among efforts to mark the boundaries of the Cultural District so when people enter the district, they immediately know what it is.

In the summer of 2021, Arts!Longview installed 16 utility box wrappers with artwork created by local students. Hellen explained that Arts!Longview held an art contest for the wrappers. The contest was open to all first- through 12th-grade students in Longview ISD, Pine Tree ISD, Spring Hill ISD, local private schools and homeschool children. Entries were judged by the Arts!Longview Board of Directors and winners were selected. The children’s artwork was printed on vinyl wrappers which were installed as coverings to brighten up the utility boxes in the district. 

But perhaps the most visible changes in the district came in the form of new murals on several downtown walls. 

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“Longview Flower Power” by Dace Kidd | 210 East Methvin Street

Arts!Longview commissioned four murals downtown in 2021. Inspired by the work of Arts!Longview, other businesses and organizations joined suit. Today, there are many new murals downtown that are creating a new sense of excitement in Longview.

“I hope the murals give us a sense of identity, in some way, By identity, I mean a sense of ownership. This is our city.”

- Artist Diego Baracaldo

Baracaldo is one of several East Texas artists who worked to create murals in downtown Longview in 2021. Baracaldo painted a mural called Color for Your Ears on the wall of the Longview Symphony’s office on Tyler Street. That mural was commissioned by Arts!Longview. Baracaldo also painted a privately funded mural downtown with fellow artist and downtown Longview business owner Zahck Israel. Color for Your Ears features a woman with flowing red hair playing a flute, which made it appropriately chosen for the Longview Symphony’s wall, Baracaldo said. Color for Your Ears marked Baracaldo’s first time to create a mural, though he said he’s been artistic most of his life.

He picked up some tips from fellow artist Dace Kidd of Tyler, who has painted several murals across East Texas. Kidd painted two murals in downtown Longview in 2021. One called Longview Flower Power depicts six flowers native to East Texas. The other is referred to as The Unity Mural; it depicts a portion of the cover of late artist Anup Bhandari’s book, The Faces of Newgate.

Longview Flower Power was brightly painted on the nearly 40-foot-tall wall of The Landmark Social downtown. The Unity Mural, which was privately funded, is located in the LMFA Pelaia Plaza at the corner of Green and Tyler streets.  Hellen said one of the goals of Arts!Longview is to spark a love of the arts in the community. She hopes the new murals do just that.  Beyond the visible enhancements within the Cultural District, Hellen said she has enjoyed building relationships with Longview’s cultural organizations, businesses and artists themselves.

Baracaldo is one of several East Texas artists who worked to create murals in downtown Longview in 2021. Baracaldo painted a mural called Color for Your Ears on the wall of the Longview Symphony’s office on Tyler Street. That mural was commissioned by Arts!Longview. Baracaldo also painted a privately funded mural downtown with fellow artist and downtown Longview business owner Zahck Israel. Color for Your Ears features a woman with flowing red hair playing a flute, which made it appropriately chosen for the Longview Symphony’s wall, Baracaldo said. Color for Your Ears marked Baracaldo’s first time to create a mural, though he said he’s been artistic most of his life.

He picked up some tips from fellow artist Dace Kidd of Tyler, who has painted several murals across East Texas. Kidd painted two murals in downtown Longview in 2021. One called Longview Flower Power depicts six flowers native to East Texas. The other is referred to as The Unity Mural; it depicts a portion of the cover of late artist Anup Bhandari’s book, The Faces of Newgate.

Longview Flower Power was brightly painted on the nearly 40-foot-tall wall of The Landmark Social downtown. The Unity Mural, which was privately funded, is located in the LMFA Pelaia Plaza at the corner of Green and Tyler streets.  Hellen said one of the goals of Arts!Longview is to spark a love of the arts in the community. She hopes the new murals do just that.  Beyond the visible enhancements within the Cultural District, Hellen said she has enjoyed building relationships with Longview’s cultural organizations, businesses and artists themselves.

“There are so many very talented and creative people in our community,” she said.  Hellen said the next steps for Arts!Longview are to build upon what has already been started by continuing to develop resources for residents and visitors so they can know more about Longview’s culture, including its public art and historical locations.

“We are developing more resources for artists and musicians to market their creativity, and we are working to develop a place that will become a true cultural center for this community,” she said.

Arts!Longview concluded 2021 by hiring its first full-time executive director, Christina Cavazos. Hellen, who has led the organization in a part-time capacity since its inception, is staying on board through the spring of 2022 to ensure a smooth transition.

Arts Organizations Celebrate Milestones

It was a year marked by milestone achievements and anniversaries for many of the cultural arts organizations in Longview.

While the Longview World of Wonders (LongviewWOW) children’s museum celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021, the Longview Ballet began celebrating its 50th. Meanwhile, Longview Museum of Fine Arts purchased a new building downtown that will set the stage for the museum to host world-class exhibits and bring a cultural arts hub to the community.

For LongviewWOW, the fifth anniversary year of the children’s museum started with a smaller than usual crowd for its Bourbon & Bowties fundraiser in February 2021.

“There was nary a drop of Pappy Van Winkle left in the bottle, and we’re excited to be gathering together again in February of 2022,” Marketing Director Beth Swindell said.

In the early spring of 2021, with the support of Longview Rotary Club, a decommissioned Union Pacific railcar was retrofitted and moved into LongviewWOW “to inspire and educate young minds about the history, safety and technology of trains,” Swindell said. Following that, late spring and early summer ushered in Homeschool Day and Educator Day for the children’s museum as it greeted hundreds of new faces.

“There are so many very talented and creative people in our community,” she said.  Hellen said the next steps for Arts!Longview are to build upon what has already been started by continuing to develop resources for residents and visitors so they can know more about Longview’s culture, including its public art and historical locations.

“We are developing more resources for artists and musicians to market their creativity, and we are working to develop a place that will become a true cultural center for this community,” she said.

Arts!Longview concluded 2021 by hiring its first full-time executive director, Christina Cavazos. Hellen, who has led the organization in a part-time capacity since its inception, is staying on board through the spring of 2022 to ensure a smooth transition.

Arts Organizations Celebrate Milestones

It was a year marked by milestone achievements and anniversaries for many of the cultural arts organizations in Longview.

While the Longview World of Wonders (LongviewWOW) children’s museum celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2021, the Longview Ballet began celebrating its 50th. Meanwhile, Longview Museum of Fine Arts purchased a new building downtown that will set the stage for the museum to host world-class exhibits and bring a cultural arts hub to the community.

For LongviewWOW, the fifth anniversary year of the children’s museum started with a smaller than usual crowd for its Bourbon & Bowties fundraiser in February 2021. 

“There was nary a drop of Pappy Van Winkle left in the bottle, and we’re excited to be gathering together again in February of 2022,” Marketing Director Beth Swindell said.

In the early spring of 2021, with the support of Longview Rotary Club, a decommissioned Union Pacific railcar was retrofitted and moved into LongviewWOW “to inspire and educate young minds about the history, safety and technology of trains,” Swindell said. Following that, late spring and early summer ushered in Homeschool Day and Educator Day for the children’s museum as it greeted hundreds of new faces.

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Longview Ballet Theatre “Cinderella” dancers. Photographer: Chris Reed
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Longview Symphony Orchestra’s “Magic of Harry Potter” concert partnered with ArtsView Children’s Theatre performers for a spectacular event!

LongviewWOW also commissioned a “much dreamed of and talked about mural” on its back wall. The mural, which was painted by Jamie Robinson, features silhouettes of playing children, gears, a crane and other items as well as the LongviewWOW logo. The museum officially celebrated its fifth birthday in August 2021 and unveiled an attractive, interactive front window exhibit that now makes for a new selfie location in downtown Longview.

Summer and fall culinary workshops were well-attended, Swindell said, and in the fall, the children’s museum resumed its Little Learners program for preschool students and began a new Tinkering Club. The Gingerbread Man, who had an abbreviated reading schedule in 2020, planned to make his rounds again in winter of 2021.

Longview Ballet Theatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in its 2021-2022 season. The ballet, which was founded by Pat George Mitchell, partnered with the Gregg County Historical Museum in the summer of 2021 for a special exhibit paying tribute to the organization’s history.  The exhibit, Beauty and Glamour: Signature Costumes of Longview Ballet Theatre, took a look back on 50 years of Longview Ballet Theatre history through photographs, newspaper clippings and costumes that tell the story of the ballet company and its founder.

Longview Ballet Theatre is now preparing to perform Cinderella in the spring of 2022. The performance originally was scheduled for spring of 2020, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. Now, the performance of Cinderella will coincide with the ballet’s 50th anniversary. Longview Ballet Theatre officially started in 1972.  In addition to the performance of Cinderella in the spring, Longview Ballet Theatre is also planning its fifth collaboration with Ballet West as well as a special selection of choreography created by Mitchell in tribute to her dancers and her historic career.

Other Longview arts organizations marked 2021 by celebrating the return of in-person performances. The East Texas Symphonic Band held a concert Oct. 12, 2020, that marked its first in-person performance since the beginning of the pandemic. The East Texas Symphonic Band continued to celebrate with in-person audiences throughout 2021, and its annual outside concert on May 24 at Teague Park drew the largest audience in its history at the outdoor venue.

Gregg County Historical Museum brought its annual Dalton Days event back to downtown Longview where crowds gathered to watch a historic re-enactment of the Dalton Gang bank robbery. Dalton Days was one of the first events allowed to take place in the city in the spring as the pandemic eased.

The Belcher Center, which delayed its season in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic, began celebrating a “take two” of its 15th anniversary season last year. The Belcher Center announced in May that its 2021-2022 season will be able to serve an auditorium at full capacity. The Belcher Center plans to bring East Texas audiences a variety of performances during its 15th season. Shows include The 40th Anniversary Official Blues Brothers Revue, A Christmas Carol, The Music of Sam Cooke, One Night in Memphis, and Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience.

ArtsView Children’s Theatre delighted audiences of the young and the young at heart with performances of popular shows, such as Frozen Jr. and Mulan Jr., in the summer of 2021.  Executive Director Nathaniel Olson said ArtsView was excited to host a Halloween Revue in October that featured a Halloween centric musical revue performed by teens. In November, ArtsView presented the popular Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and in December, ArtsView partnered with the city of Longview for a holiday celebration called Wonderland Train. ArtsView’s year culminated on December 31 when the organization hosted its annual First Night Gala, a New Year’s Eve fundraiser celebration that benefits the children’s theater.
In 2021, Longview Symphony brought a bit of magic to the city as it partnered with several community organizations for events that led up to the symphony’s The Magic of Harry Potter concert in August. The symphony held a Harry Potter-themed night at its office during the summer ArtWalk, partnered with Oil Horse Brewing Co. in July for Harry Potter trivia, and worked with Longview Arboretum and Nature Center to host a Marauder’s Map Challenge scavenger hunt. Activities culminated with the symphony’s The Magic of Harry Potter, which delighted audiences with music from the beloved films. In December 2021, the symphony also had its annual holiday concert, Home for the Holidays, which featured performances of holiday classics and a special visitor from the North Pole.

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LMFA achitectual renderings of gallery space and building entrance.

I think the new location is going to raise the profile of LMFA in Longview, but it will also raise the city of Longview’s profile across the state and perhaps beyond.”
– LMFA Executive Director Tiffany Jehorek

Meanwhile, Longview Museum of Fine Arts saw more than 400 people visit the museum as it brought back its Family Day. The free event, which was made possible with a grant from the Blue Star Museums program, featured a variety of family friendly activities that correlated to the museum’s exhibition “The American West.” In addition to “The American West,” LMFA played host to several exhibits in 2021. Those included an exhibition of the Kilgore College Rangerettes 80-year history as photographed by O. Rufus Lovett and an exhibition that commemorated the city’s 150th anniversary, which featured photographs by Lovett paired with profiles of individuals written by Gary Borders.

LMFA also received a $10,000 grant in 2021 from Texas Women for the Arts, a program of the Texas Cultural Trust. The funds will be used to support LMFA’s educational efforts. The museum also welcomed more than 200 children to summer arts classes in 2021, Executive Director Tiffany Jehorek said.  For LMFA, though, its biggest achievement in 2021 was the acquisition of a former bank building that will soon become the museum’s new home. The iconic former Longview National Bank and Regions Bank building, located in the heart of downtown Longview at the corner of Fredonia and Methvin Streets, will help LMFA cement its legacy as a renowned art museum in East Texas, Jehorek said.  Museum staff, board members and loyal supporters gathered February 25 at the former bank building to celebrate as LMFA officially purchased the building.  LMFA will remain in its current home on Tyler Street through the end of 2022 as the former bank building is remodeled and transformed into Longview’s new artistic hub. LMFA plans to open at its new location in 2023.  “Not only will the building have great exhibitions and great art, but the building itself will also be a prime example of how to repurpose an old bank for a new creative space,” Jehorek said. When completed, the new museum will feature a pedestrian landscaped breezeway, gallery space located inside the former bank vault, hopefully a rooftop restaurant venue and more, Jehorek said. The museum will complete renovations while preserving much of the artistic features of the building itself. LMFA plans to occupy the basement and first floor area of the building. 

“This is the community’s museum,” she said. “We want it to be a place with creative spaces where creative people can work and play.”

ARTS!Longview’s vision is to spark a vibrant and successful creative community that works to inspire and promote a love of the arts, our history, and culture in Longview. With our collaborative efforts and vision, to celebrate the art and soul of Longview – now and for future generations. artslongview.org

CULTURAL DISTRICT

For the following map key, please reference the map below.

Downtown Area

  1. ArtsView Children’s Theatre 
  2. Central Fire Station
  3. City Hall / Visitors Center 
  4. First Baptist Church
  5. First Presbyterian Church 
  6. First United Methodist Church 
  7. Gregg County Courthouse 
  8. Gregg County Historical Museum 
  9. Heritage Plaza
  10. Historic Longview Farmers Market
  11. Historic Longview Train Depot
  12. Kilgore College – Longview
  13. Longview Chamber of Commerce
  14. ARTS!Longview Community Center
  15. Longview Museum of Fine Arts
  16. Longview Public Library
  17. Longview Safety City 
  18. Longview Symphony 
  19. Longview World of Wonders
  20. Magrill Plaza
  21. Pelaia Plaza and
    J.T. Smith Sculpture Garden

Letourneau University Area

  1. Belcher Center
  2. Servant Sculpture
  3. Ingenuity Sculpture
  4. R.G. LeTourneau Museum
  5. Speer Chapel
  6. Historic Longview Fire Station