Mural Project Underway in Piggott

Thursday, April 12, 2018
Joe Cole and Ashleigh West brave the snow and cold to inspect the current mural Saturday morning.
TD photo/Tim Blair

Some 30 years ago, local historian and attorney Joe Cole was completing a fundraising project of great importance—with the monies generated used to re-build the iconic bandstand on the Piggott courtsquare. Recently, Cole took on another project which will surely have lasting impact on the city, as he seeks to update the mural on the side of the Jones Furniture building. Saturday, an artist who is a student at ASU visited the city in preparation for the project. Now, Cole has set about the process of raising enough funds to complete the effort.

“The city of Piggott has so much to offer and we need to do a better job of letting the world know about it,” Cole said of the mural effort. “It's a great way to highlight our history and cultural heritage.”

The current mural, completed in the late 1990s by Carolyn Caldwell, has become weathered over the course of the past two decades. Cole noted he'd like so see some of the current mural saved, if possible, as he envisions panels which share the city's rich past.

“My idea is to do it in panels which reflect different parts of the city's history,” Cole explained. “With emphasis on Ernest Hemingway, the filming of “A Face in the Crowd” and such.”

In discussing the effort, Cole also pointed to the city's ties to famous opera singer Francis Greer; the town's role as “the marrying town” in the 40s and 50s, along with the military ties to war hero Alva Lasswell and the World War II fighter plane, “The Town of Piggott Arkansas.”

On Saturday he hosted a visit from regional artist Ashleigh West, of Hot Springs, who is a student at Arkansas State University. West has worked on other mural projects in the past with other ASU students, most notably the murals in downtown Jonesboro. She has been tasked with developing a plan for the effort, and determining how much it will cost to complete.

“We have financial support from the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum,” Cole indicated. “We also have some individual donors who will help, but we are going to need to do some additional fundraising to get this completed.”

West indicated she would also look to enlist the help of other artists in the Jonesboro area, and noted the project is expected to take four to six weeks to complete once it's underway. She is currently working on a plan of action for the effort, and will be updating Cole in the days to come.

“Piggott needs to do a better job of letting people know about all of the great places to visit, and the cultural heritage we enjoy,” Cole pointed out.

Those interested in learning more about the project, and those wanting to help with a donation, may contact Cole at 901 246-7647.

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