Colorful murals create a new section downtown

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

There’s a new little art spot coming to Downtown Corsicana. It’s just the right amount of “hidden” for urban explorers, and just off the beaten path, but if you know where to look (Hint: Between Collin Street and Sixth Avenue), you can visit it right now.

A muted, forgotten alley seemingly lost to time sits beside the Palace Theatre, but thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Navarro Council of the Arts, a new sub-location of downtown is popping up for locals and tourists alike.

The newest mural, designed by artist Carly Haney, welcomes visitors to the alley. – Photo by Guy Chapman

Mural art has become a large draw for city tourism, especially in downtowns. With day-trippers and travelers recording their visits through “Instagram Culture,” the draw to have appealing art not only brings new people in, but helps to beautify a city.

“Walking back there and standing and seeing the possibilities, I just kind of thought that a really cool place to give artists an opportunity to be creative,” said Leah Dill Blackard, Executive Director of the Navarro Council of the Arts. “But also to clean up an area as a beautification project to increase economic development in the downtown area.”

The original cactus mural of Corsicana’s Artist Alley was a collaborative piece created by local artist Carly Haynie and Dusty and Jimmy Hale in 2019. The alley’s long-term goal is to create something unique in the back alley, an area full of creative possibilities. Haynie will act as the alley’s curator, having created the first four projects. The next mural will be created by artist Alex Bugg.

Two of the Art Alley’s earliest murals. – Photo by Guy Chapman

“Murals are such a big deal right now for all towns,” Blackard said. “There’s a recent Texas Monthly article written about the success of murals and the economic development that it brings to the area, so I was just standing back there one day looking at all the walls and all the possibilities of what we could do, and thought ‘This is a great place to start an art alley.”

The secluded area behind the Palace is being completely renovated, complete with eye-popping murals and plans for paving the uneven pathways. Additional changes will add tables to sit, theatrical lighting to make the area appealing day and night, and cameras to ensure the area is safe to visit. Iron archways, designed by Corsicana High School welding students, are planned to greet future visitors at each entrance.

With four murals already completed, the future looks promising for the artist alley. Two upcoming murals are already completely funded, and new locations have already been secured for additional displays. Dill calls the area an “Artist’s playground.”

The next mural going up will focus on the history of Corsicana and some of its more iconic locations. Another piece will be from the CHS Class of 2022 that will give the students an opportunity to express what Corsicana means to them, and will be on display for future generations. The new student mural will be up by the fall.

While the Navarro Council of the Arts is spearheading it, those partnerships include funding from Corsicana Visitors Bureau, the Corsicana Educational Foundation, Main Street, Corsicana High School, and several interested business owners.

The Palace Theatre logo is a new addition to the venue’s back wall. – Photo by Guy Chapman

What Blackard needs now is help from the community. She is looking to find people who would be interested in pulling weeds, creating safe, cost-friendly walkway areas for visitors, or funding future projects.

“The best part about this projects is that it’s taken all of us,” Blackard said. “This is a true beautification project for Corsicana.”

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