BY MELANIE BUCK –
A new look is coming to the wall of American Artisans – one that certainly brightens the arts district, but also highlights the area’s talent. Rick and Donna Chrisman, owners of American Artisans, said they wanted to improve the wall and plans began when they were inspired by another’s vision.
Rick explains, “We were inspired by architect Ed Levy’s vision that was presented by the Arkansas Regional Coalition of the Ouachitas (ARCO) and Mark Peterson of the U of A Extension Service several years ago. One idea among many was to paint murals on blank walls as an aesthetic improvement and draw to downtown.”
The Chrismans are no strangers to the idea of improving the downtown area. The couple have worked hard, both on their own in their artistic eatery, but also with other community minded groups such as ARCO and Mena’s Downtown Partners. “At American Artisans we felt like that idea [Levy’s vision] fit what we were attempting to bring to downtown and kept it on our minds.”
Then, the Chrisman’s happen to hear about some exciting beautifications happening in Fort Smith, in the way of murals. “When we heard about Unexpected Ft. Smith’s mural project and met local artist Seth Stewart, who had worked on the Ft. Smith project, we knew the time was right.” The couple has since been working with Stewart’s concept for several months, putting their ideas together to bring about a full scale mural on the south wall of American Artisans. Stewart completed the first stage of the enormous project on Sunday with the help of local artist, Jim Brace.
“We are extremely pleased with the excitement and positive reaction from the community. Passers-by stop regularly to look and ask questions. Now Seth is off to school for three weeks pursuing an education certification so he can use his art degree to teach art to young people. When he returns we’ll see the rest of the picture revealing the fantasy origin of the big bird. Stay tuned,” said Chrisman.