Lyon art department helps Batesville’s Main Street blossom

The Lyon College Art Program has completed a new mural in downtown Batesville.

The new mural, Blossoming Main Street, depicts an apple blossom on Main Street to represent the recent growth of Batesville’s beautiful downtown. The art department worked with Main Street Batesville and the Batesville Area Arts Council (BAAC) to finish the project.

The design was a collaboration between Professor of Art Dustyn Bork and Carly Dahl, BAAC director. Mandi Curtwright and Main Street Batesville applied for grant funding through the Arkansas Department of Heritage to complete the mural. Dahl and the BAAC provided logistical and operational support.

A woman paints a mural on a brick wall
Lyon alumna Victoria Hutcheson works on the Blossoming Main Street mural.

In addition to himself and his wife, Dahl, Bork said two current students, seniors Brianna Sanchez and Samantha Long, and an alumna, Victoria Hutcheson, helped him paint the new mural. 

Hutcheson was back in Batesville due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bork reached out to ask if she would like to help.

“It felt great to be back painting murals in Batesville again,” she said. “The murals class at Lyon and Batesville shaped me so much in my life and career.”

Hutcheson continued, “It was also wonderful to talk to some current students to see how they enjoy learning about the murals and being able to give them some advice on what it’s like after Lyon and doing murals of your own.”

Long, of Cave City, felt like part of the community while working on the mural.

“The process was actually kind of stressful. Once you start painting and see the finished project, though, it’s really rewarding.”

Sanchez, of Paragould, drove all the way to Batesville to help for a week.

“Working on this project, I learned that if you step out of your comfort zone, you will earn even more opportunities,” she said. “I have already been spoken to about two potential murals of my own in Corning, Ark.”

Bork said the goal with the Blossoming Main Street mural is to inspire.

“We want to encourage visitors to see their surroundings in a new light and to encourage more foot traffic to the beautiful area of downtown Batesville.”

In the art department’s experience, he said, large colorful compositions garner great attention and are perfect for community engagement. He said this type of mural has the potential to be quite visible and be shared through social media and photography.

“We selected the apple blossom as it is the state flower. We wanted a subject matter that had local recognition and significance.”

Bork loved providing students and alumni the opportunity to get involved and help shape the community.

“They are awesome in their skills, so I know I can count on them,” he said. “This mural was a very complex painting with 22 unique colors and complex design, the most advanced we have taken on.”

The alumni and students have executed a few murals before, so Bork knew they would step up to the challenge.

“Having Victoria working with the current students was also a great teaching opportunity. Since she has executed a couple of large scale commissioned murals on her own, she was able to give them real world pointers on how to get started in their art.”

Seeing the impact of the Coke mural, the solo murals completed by students and the new Blossoming Main Street mural has been a rewarding experience for Bork.

“I am very proud of the role that Lyon and my students have played in adding to the vibrancy of our community,” he said.

Bork continued, “The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Murals are tangible and visible products of artists’ creativity and talents.” 

“All of the support from the community makes all the hard work so much more worth it,” Sanchez said. “I’m thankful to call Batesville my home away from home.”

“No matter where you’re from, art can be a really nice way to connect to your community,” said Long. 

Both seniors would love to be involved in more community art projects in the future.

“I think every town deserves some color,” Sanchez said.