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Finalists for the 2023 President’s Awards Program have been announced. For over 30 years the awards program, sponsored by Texas Downtown (TXDT), has recognized outstanding projects, places, and people of Texas downtowns.

The “Better Together” Mural, commissioned by The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture and created by Steve Hilton and Jesse Bagget, was unveiled in early 2023. The mosaic tile mural represents how the Wichita Falls community rallies together in hard times. Many MSU Texas Fain Fine Arts students and local artists helped Hilton and Baggett create over 2,000 handmade clay tiles. The four-story artwork depicts larger-than-life creatures, including a panda, flamingo, donkey, and even a 13-foot-tall elephant, working together to hang the moon. The mural was funded in part by the Wichita Falls 4B Sales Tax Corporation, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and the National Endowment on the Arts.

One hundred and fourteen entries were submitted in eleven different categories from communities across the state. Design and achievement categories were judged by separate panels.   

The mural is a finalist for Best Public Improvement Projects for communities with populations over 50,000, along with:

  • Irving – Heritage Park
  • Georgetown – South Main Arts District
  • Mesquite – Downtown Mesquite Placemaking

The judges for design entries were:

  • Lois Rodriguez, Texas Highway Magazine
  • Chris Dyer, Dr. Pepper Museum
  • Chelsea Irby, TX Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • Chris Lawrence, Downtown Bryan Developer
  • Liz Grindstaff, Freese & Nichols
  • Amanda Garcia, Texas Travel Alliance
  • Brittany Petrilli, Texas Association of Museums
  • Jane Jenkins, Jane Jenkins Resources

Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October 25 at the President’s Awards Gala, held in conjunction with the 2023 Texas Downtown Annual Conference scheduled for October 24-27 in Nacogdoches.

For more information about the President’s Awards, the Texas Downtown Annual Conference, or other programs of the Texas Downtown Association, please visit