“This is one of the coolest dedications I’ve ever done, both literally and figuratively,” said Daniel Nix, Utilities Operations Manager for the City of Wichita Falls, at a very chilly mural dedication Tuesday afternoon in Wichita Falls.
Lift Station #25 Mural is located on Midwestern Parkway, within Weeks Park, across from the intersection of Midwestern Parkway and Irving Place. The project started five years ago through a public-private partnership with the City and the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture.
In April, the Alliance began seeking the submission of qualifications from artists to be considered to create a permanent full-building mural on a sewer lift station. A lift station is a pumping station that moves wastewater from a lower elevation to a higher elevation.
“We build these structures because of a function,” said Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana. “It needs to serve a function for our citizens, but why not at the same time make something beautiful.”
A selection committee led by The Alliance, comprised of neighbors and community leaders, evaluated more than a dozen proposals from artists for the project. Panelists included Wichita Falls residents Anna Schaffner, Carma Fisher, Jennica Lambert, River Bend Nature Center Exhibits Curator, Ferdine LeBlanc, Art in Public Places Program Manager of The Alliance, and Mr. Nix.
In October, local artist Aaron Soto was chosen as the lead designer. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from MSU Texas, Soto is an experienced portrait artist and muralist. She practices oils, acrylic, and all forms of dry media. Much of her work involves portraiture. Brandon Shanks assisted Soto in this project.
“I’d like to thank my family and my husband for being so supportive of me during this endeavor because I’m not the sanest person when I’m stressed,” Soto said at the dedication. “They are ultimately just kinder to me than I am to myself.”
Soto also thanked the community and the neighbors who stopped by and even honked as they passed by as a sign of support. Soto and her team completed the mural in mid-November.
“Public art is important to the city, ” Darron Leiker, City Manager of Wichita Falls, said. “We recognize that, and this is a unique public-private partnership with the artist, Aaron, and the Alliance.”
Native plants and animals inspired the colorful mural. It features creatures like a rabbit, cats, dung beetles, and horny toads.
“Every time I came by, this eye-popping piece of art put a smile on my face,” Mary Ferguson, Alliance Board President, said. “It made me happy, and isn’t that an essential purpose of art? I mean, if Aaron can make a poop pump put a smile on people’s faces, what an accomplishment! I’m serious that this is a shining example of how The Alliance for Arts and Culture can create new experiences for residents and visitors.”
This is the second public mural to be installed along the Circle Trail System. The first mural was installed in 2018 on the Wichita Spillway within Lake Wichita Park.
“I hope that [The Alliance] can come up with these ideas and the city can find the money to develop funding because this is what it’s about in Wichita Falls, ” Santellana said. “When people drive to Wichita Falls, they see things that are unique. I’m such a huge fan of public art, so I hope we can continue this for many years.”
WANT TO CREATE PUBLIC ART FOR YOUR COMMUNITY?
The Alliance become the primary advisor in producing murals and art in public places in Wichita Falls and the surrounding areas. Our role is to promote, educate, advise, and link artists to businesses, organizations, or individuals interested in the development of murals and other types of art.
Let us help you with your next creative project. Contact the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture at (940)500-4453 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.