Muralists Inventory Condition of Floodwall Art
By Ro Morse
PADUCAH, KY - The annual walk-through inspection of Paducah's floodwall murals took place Friday morning. Muralists Herb Roe and Robert Dafford examined each image along Paducah's three-block project, and will assess what possible repair work may be needed in future years.
Park Services Director Mark Thompson and Recreation Superintendent Amie Clark watched and asked questions as the muralists inspected each of over fifty images. "Repair after 9-12 years of exposure to the sun and elements was expected, but some of the images haven't been repainted for over 15 years. We are looking ahead to have an idea of what to anticipate and have as much of a plan in place as is possible," said Thompson. "We realize that weather conditions constantly have an impact on the paintings, but we can make an educated guess with the help of the artists who created them. They paint on floodwalls around the country and know what to look for as the murals age."
Roe is repainting the Carnegie Library and Coca-Cola plant opening night murals he originally designed and created. "All-in-all, the majority of the images are in good shape. The wall itself is in much better shape than in other towns where we paint. It's important to deal with the aging process as we go along. The only way for them to have long-term viability is if they are maintained year-to-year."
"During our walk-through, we graded each one and its need for repainting," Dafford explained. "In some places, the clear coat is failing, but the paint itself is holding up pretty well. We are using a different clear-coat than the original one we used. This one was developed about ten years ago and we've been using it in other cities as well as here in Paducah for the past seven years. It's performing well."
Dafford is currently repainting the Barkley-Cobb mural he created 17 years ago. "I'm enjoying the opportunity to add more detail as I repaint. While repainting the Barkley-Cobb I've been able to understand more clearly some architectural details and am adding them as I paint. The old newspaper photos and black and white photos we turn up in research are usually not very clear. Being able to do research online today, I have an even better understanding of details such as the lions head spouts on the fountain not visible to us then. That fountain, for horses and dogs, was made by a company that made many just like it in the early 20th century. Its interesting that there's a site online that features these fountains, and towns that have one, send in a picture of theirs- Paducah's is represented by my mural."
Dafford hopes to finish the Barkley-Cobb mural in the next few days. On and off rain has been a factor in delaying completion.
Dafford Murals is known around the world for accuracy in recreation of history in vivid life-size images. Paducah's 24/7 art-history project is an attraction visited year round by locals and tourists alike. This is the 18th painting season for the Paducah Wall to Wall project.