No wall in Alpine is safe from artists. The town is loaded with murals. And a dedicated group of mural lovers figured out unique ways to pay for them. One of the 30 or so murals in Alpine is near the Sul Ross campus and shows the history of the Texas Rangers.
“We painted silver badges all the way around the mural,” says Kerri Blackman, a stained glass artist and owner of the Kiowa gallery downtown. “People donated 250 dollars to put a name on a badge. It may have been a father, grandfather, uncle or anyone in the family who was a Texas Ranger. We also put the dates they served on the badge.”
Kerri says it takes between 35 thousand and 50 thousand dollars to do a mural.
“Most of that goes to the artist. The rest goes to promoting the mural, selling t-shirts, taking care of the donors with a sponsor party and all kinds of stuff. It’s a lot of work, but raising money is easy.”
The latest mural is one that shows Texas musicians.
“We wanted to pick 36 to 50 iconic Texas musicians. In order to raise money for this mural, we put a bounty on everybody’s head. So Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bob Wills, they were all five thousand dollars. You go on down the list and we have some at 25 hundred, some at a thousand and some at five hundred. We raised over fifty thousand dollars in less than a month.”
That mural is located near the railroad tracks. Alpine has an alley full of murals. It’s called Art Alley.
“That got started by some of the downtown artists. Different owners of those buildings wanted to beautify the alley. It was kind of run down for a long time and then the Main Street program came in and fixed it up a bit and artists took the initiative and started doing the murals.”
A lot of people walk though the alley. Others drive through. While we were slowly driving through it, Kerri was describing some of the murals.
“This one is a painting of the Big Bend Chihuahuan Desert and it has javelinas running along, a turkey, a mountain lion, a cactus and other desert plants. This particular one has ceramic figures attached to it. It’s really amazing. Another one is called the postage stamp mural and contains about a dozen frames a foot by a foot and a half done by different artists. One of the favorites is a stylized sedan from the 50’s titled Cruising the Big Bend. You’ll see that our dumpsters are painted, too. They’re really cute. Even the backs of the buildings on the alley are painted. Some have nighttime scenes with the moon and stars made of mosaics. The artists who created these did so as a gift to the community. The alley is a popular place for tourists. People have their pictures made standing by a mural. They look like they’re a part of it. ”