Big crowd turns out for Claiborne
Kinnebrew mural dedication culmination
of hard work
The Guardian-Journal 2012-05-31 photos/Michelle
The mural on the Kinnebrew building was
dedicated on Saturday, May 25, at the annual Claiborne Jubilee. Louisiana Tech
art students dedicated themselves, even after classes let out for the summer,
to finishing the project that depicts a rich history in Claiborne Parish. The
large print being held by the artists is a smaller scale of what is seen on the
side of the Kinnebrew building. Nick Bustamante, pictured far right, is an art
teacher at Louisiana Tech University, and his students took on a directed study
course to paint the mural. Pictured far left is the original artist for the
mural Judy Buckner. Students are from left, Daniel Moore, Whitney Trisler and
Lindsay Waters. Artists not pictured are Jenni Claire Nasser and Hillary
Top, Ms. Jasmine Morelock Field displays
her artwork, including the painting that covers the book she wrote in honor of
her daughter, Valerie who died while away at college. Above, the Sweet Harmony
Quartet, one of two quartets in the Piney Hills Harmony Chorus, entertained
guests during the annual Claiborne Jubilee. Pictured from left are Carol Ogle,
Judy Sisson, Leah Rutherford and Donna Fike. The Piney Hills Harmony Chorus
also entertained guests with songs sang in barbershop style.
MICHELLE BATES, Editor
The Claiborne Jubilee turned out large crowds and was a special event indeed with the dedication of the Kinnebrew Mural.
Homer Mayor Alecia N. Smith presented each art student, the original artist of the mural and the art teacher with certificates of appreciation for their dedication and hard work on making this project come to life.
Cynthia Steele, Jubilee coordinator, thanked each of those who were involved in the project, including the Ross family, owners of the building. The Ross family had the building cleaned and painted so the artists could use the side of the building as their canvas to bring to life a rich history in Claiborne Parish.
“It has been wonderful to have Nick (Bustamante) as a colleague in this project and to have someone as excited about the things you’re excited about is a rare treasure,” Steele said. “I would really like to take one more minute to thank the Ross family. When I first talked to Mr. Ross’ mother, Beverly Kinnebrew, several years ago, she was excited about the idea but nothing happened. Then one day she was no longer with us.
“So, I talked to her husband,” she continued, “and before I knew it, he was gone. And then I had the nerve to call Jim (Ross) and say let’s do it. And he not only let us do it, he completely transformed the building that -- well, to be frank -- was about the ugliest building in town. And it looks good even if there wasn’t a mural on it.”
The building was built by Alabama Kinnebrew, and it originally was an opera house.
“Mr. Alabama would bring in shows from New Orleans and it was quite the big deal,” she said. “We read in the Claiborne Parish history books about how people would get dressed up just to come to the opera house.”
She again thanked the Ross’s for their dedication to allowing this project to be done.
Bustamante, art teacher at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, said he was very impressed with Homer.
“This is just a really big deal for us to be a part of this,”?he said. “The thing that impressed me the most about Homer is your dedication to honoring the past.”
When he was first approached by Steele about the project, she took him on a tour through the Herbert S. Ford Museum in which he said he was very impressed by the connection to the people in the photographs in many of the displays inside the museum.
“She had a story behind every one of those people in those photographs,” Bustamante said. “To be honest, I was a little jealous, because coming from and being raised in southern California, I just don’t have that kind of connection to a place. Your past is tangible and you guys are so lucky to live in a place with such a rich history.”
He thanked them for allowing them to be a “small” part of that history. He also acknowledged Judy Buckner, the original designer of the mural. He went on to recognized Steele.
“Cynthia, you are truly an artistic visionary and dreamer,” he said. To the audience, he said, “Without her vision of this mural it would have never happened. This mural was created on one-fifth of the mural budget, which is nothing. And the great thing about dreams is they are contagious.”
Once it was put into motion, everyone began to jump in and volunteer, providing supplies and materials needed to produce the mural. He recognized M&M Sound and Media, the company that lent the extension cords, light fixtures and other things that were needed to help get the mural done. Also, he said it was videoed to document the process. Fine Line Art Supply donated copies of the original painting to work from. He thanked Jamie Johnson, a graduate student who came out to document the piece, and Mr. Ross who so graciously helped get the building in condition to paint on.
He also recognized others who also donated supplies and helped out, and all of those who dropped off lunches and cookies, “thank you very, very much,” he said.
He talked about the project and how he and the students came to be the ones to paint the mural. He said that when Steele approached him about the project, he said yes without knowing the massive scale and the work it would entail to produce such an art piece.
“It didn’t click how big the building was,” he said. “It didn’t click on how crazy that textured surface was going to be and how hard it was going to be to paint on it. That surface is the most challenging surface I have ever painted on in my life. So when the students got out there, we were in the trenches together.”
Bustamante and the students learned together how to make the mural project come to fruition.
He talked to Jonathan Donahue, director of the School of Arts at Tech. He allowed Bustamante to recruit some students to take on the mural and tackle it in the form of a directed studies course. These students were given school credit for the project, and still stayed after school let out for the summer to complete it.
In fact, in the contract for the project, the students agreed to spend five hours per week on it, but the students started spending not only the five hours per week, but extra days during the week.
“From that moment on, everybody came out two or three days a week,” Bustamante said, “which says a lot about students who have no connection to the Town of Homer. Quickly, we realized that we were working on something that is so much bigger than ourselves. They worked their tails off for you guys.”
To the students, he said, “It’s been a real honor and I’m extremely proud of you guys.”
In other activities of the Jubilee, featured artist Jasmine Morelock Field was there displaying many of her art pieces from over the years as well as showcasing her book, “Valerie.” “Valerie” is about the daughter she lost when she went off to college at LSU in Baton Rouge, where she was murdered.
In a short interview at the Jubilee, Field said she wrote the book because she didn’t want her daughter to be remembered and defined by what happened to her.
“I want people to remember Valerie for how she lived,” she said. “She got to do everything she wanted to do in her short life. She got to do more than many people do in their lifetimes.”
The book features many photographs of Valerie growing up and it talks about her life from beginning to end.
Also during the Jubilee, decorated chairs were bid on, and there were many to choose from. There was a chair that paid homage to Homer in purple and white with “Homer” painted on the seat. There were chairs that were painted and turned into plant potters, so many more to choose from. There was also a penny table in which the table top was decorated with pennies.
Following the Kinnebrew mural dedication, Claiborne Jubilee players each took a chair and told a story. Some were inspiring while others were historical and even some that were quite humorous.
Also, famed Claiborne Parish author Linda Knox was on hand to sign copies of her recently published book “A Rose in Bloom.” The book tells the story of Maxine, a longtime Claiborne Parish teacher, who is now retired. Knox says Maxine inspired her as a fellow teacher and this book is a tribute to the person who inspired her.
Vendors were there as well including the youth at United Pentecostal Church with snacks and drinks and Homer High School with a bake sale.
Performances included inspirational songs by Claiborne Parish’s own Faithful 8 as well as barbershop-style performances by the Piney Hills Harmony Chorus.