McKinney Center Director Theresa Hammons discusses the four Jonesborough-themed murals painted by students with the center and the Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts. (Photos by Max Hrenda/Johnson City Press)
JONESBOROUGH – As the town of Jonesborough continues working toward the realization of a year-round locally grown foods market, its local arts community made a contribution, as well.
On Friday evening, Jonesborough residents gathered at 101 Boone St., the future site of the Boone Street Market, to witness the latest addition to the plaza — four murals, each painted by students from the McKinney Center and the Mary B. Martin program for the arts.
The event was opened by Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe, who did not mince words when talking about the evening’s significance.
“Anytime you unveil public art, it’s a pretty big deal,” Wolfe said. “When you’re unveiling Jonesborough-themed public art, it’s an even bigger deal. When you’re unveiling Jonesborough-themed public art at your future farmer’s market, then it’s the biggest deal.”
Upon completion, the Boone Street Market will work as a year-round retail outlet in which local farmers can sell their goods, as opposed to an outdoor farmer’s market, which operates seasonally. Under the direction of Jonesborough Locally Grown, a nonprofit aimed at supporting local farmers and increasing awareness of healthy eating options, once operational, the market will ask participating farmers for 20 percent of all sales. That money, along with membership fees, will cover the market’s overhead.
Though she did not provide a precise date, JLG Executive Director Karen Childress said the market should open sometime this summer. Before that construction began, however, she said she wanted to provide an opportunity for people to see where the project would begin before seeing the finished product.
“In the next week or so, work is going to start on this building,” Childress said. “We’re going to have a ‘store-before’ open house. You can see where we’re starting and appreciate the great results at the end of it.”
After the art had been unveiled, Childress and other members of JLG led brief tours through the building — which was once an Exxon station — to discuss those results. Still, before inviting the public into the store, Childress said she wanted to acknowledge the building’s pending “beautification.”
“I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say, ‘We’re going to beautify that building,’” she said. “We’re getting closer every day.”
To assist in that beautification, in addition to providing a boost to local scenery, the four murals were created to focus on some of Jonesborough’s more renowned seasonal events. Specifically, the McKinney Center and Mary B. Martin students painted murals representing Garden Gala, Jonesborough Days, the National Storytelling Festival and the Progressive Dinner. While these events may be considered some of the town’s signature events, Wolfe said the murals may change over time.
“The plan is for these paintings to be changed, in theory, on an annual basis,” Wolfe said. “It may end up being a little more or a little less. You know how plans are; they kind of evolve as you go along.”
Regardless of the murals’ duration on the brick wall, Wolfe credited McKinney Center Director Theresa Hammons and Mary B. Martin instructor Bill Bledsoe with organizing members of the community to create them. Hammons, who Wolfe referred to as a “miracle worker” for placing the murals on time and under budget, said she and Bledsoe wanted a public display of art to be created by public institutions.
“We wanted this to be a community project,” Hammons said. “It was important to get our kids at the McKinney Center and the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts involved.”
Hammons added that the students each attached their names to the murals, as well, providing them with a chance to showcase their talent in a public setting.
“What an awesome opportunity for students to have their work in a public setting,” she said. “I hope they are as proud of their work as we are.”
In addition to pride, Wolfe said the paintings offered a sense of completion to the plaza. He added that he thought more work could be done to expand on the influx of foot traffic created by the Boone Street Market.
“I could also see this with tables and chairs and a nice plaza here, buzzing with activity from our farmer’s outpost,” he said.
Anyone interested in selling produce at the market, or inquiring about membership is encouraged to contact Jonesborough Locally Grown by email at email@example.com, by phone at 458-2123, online at jonesborough.locallygrown.net, or in person at the information booth at the Jonesborough Farmer’s Market.
Follow Max Hrenda on Twitter @MaxLHrenda. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/jcpresshrenda.