The Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) is creating an art gallery about the Trinity River to celebrate its beauty and significance to the community.
But instead of simply hanging landscapes inside a building, it is literally displaying the art along the river’s banks for everyone to enjoy, at any time.
Twenty-one artists from around the state and country have been commissioned to paint murals on structures – some up to 12 feet tall – along the river as part of “Painting the River: A Trinity Trails Mural Gallery.”
Ten of the murals in the gallery have already been completed with five artists currently working on their pieces. The remaining artwork will be completed by the end of the year or by early 2021.
“The whole purpose of the mural gallery is to enhance the experience people have when they are on the trail,” said Valerie Jay, a recreation consultant for the TRWD. “It’s not just for the people who go on the trail to workout, it will also become a place to passively enjoy the trail through its art.”
The murals will be displayed along 13 miles of the Trinity River – from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth near White Settlement, through downtown Cowtown, to Gateway Park on the city’s east side.
The artists’ canvases are the floodgates and other structures along the river that have been there for decades that have been eyesores that attracted graffiti. Some of them are 7 to 10 feet wide and 10 to 12 feet tall.
“This will beautify the trail and serve many different audiences by creating a destination or a gratifying chance encounter,” said Tina Nikolic, TRWD’s neighborhood and recreational enhancement coordinator.
To ensure quality – and to make it more than just a graffiti-abatement program – TRWD issued a nationwide call for artists. They got an “tremedous response,” Nikolic said. About 250 painters submitted applications.
Their proposals were narrowed down and 85 artists were asked to submit specific designs based on the theme of rivers, water and nature.
Fort Worth Artist Katie Murray then selected and organized the winning designs in the same way art is curated for a museum or gallery.
Most of the painters are from Texas, but there are also artists from Memphis, New York and Los Angeles. The net result is a cohesive collection while still representing varying styles and mediums.
The subject matter also runs the gamut from insects, birds, cowboys and butterflies. There are two stunning but different styles of portraits of women.
“The style is from representational to modern to graphic,” Jay said. “It’s been interesting to see how they interpret this. It’s not all birds and fish. There are some there, but that’s not all there is.”
Fort Worth’s museum culture is already very strong. TRWD believes this curated, outdoor gallery is a noteworthy addition.