Some downtown WF murals being washed away

Brick like this on old historic buildings are what the landmark commission say cannot be painted on. (Source: KAUZ)
Brick like this on old historic buildings are what the landmark commission say cannot be painted on. (Source: KAUZ)
This mural was painted by artist Ralph Stearns. He has painted lots of the murals you see in Wichita Falls. (Source: KAUZ)
This mural was painted by artist Ralph Stearns. He has painted lots of the murals you see in Wichita Falls. (Source: KAUZ)

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Several murals are being removed from buildings in downtown Wichita Falls which has many people asking why.

It's because of restrictions put in place to preserve the central business district's oldest buildings.

Manager of 9th Street Studios Stephen Taylor loves all the murals that have been popping up in the area.

"It is a big blank canvas on the side of a building," Taylor said. "It's almost aching for artwork."

That includes a mural of a bird on a finger that's on the outside of his studio that an artist from Tulsa painted in 2017.

But some of those murals he loves have been taken down the last few months.

They include two children playing dice behind Wichita Falls Brewing Company and a little girl peeking out of a hole in the wall at 5th St. and Ohio Ave.

"When you paint historic brick buildings, it tends to trap up the moisture in the brick and causes deterioration of the mortar in the brick," Executive Director of the Wichita County Heritage Society, Delores Culley said.

Culley said because of the damage it can create to old brick buildings, and it jeopardizes the integrity of those buildings, the landmark commission does not allow artists to paint directly on brick buildings in the Depot Square Historic District.

The Depot District ranges from 5th to 8th Street and much of Ohio Ave.

"A lot of the draw for downtown are those very historic buildings," Culley said.

She added there are other ways murals can be put on those buildings like the ones on Karat Bar and Bistro and Wichita Falls Brewing Company.

They were made and then attached to the buildings.

Taylor said he agrees with the restrictions because historic buildings are good for downtown.

But he doesn't agree with removing existing murals.

"You're never going to get it all the way off," Taylor said. "If you sand-blast it or use any kind of solution it's going to lead to discolorization and basically leave a mark that was never there originally or intended to be there."

Culley agrees that it's a concern, but said it's their job to keep them in the best condition possible.

"They were built to last and it's part of our responsibility to make sure that they continue to last," Culley said.

Taylor said he and many other artists understand.

"If you paint something up there, a mural as beautiful as it is, you're taking away from the historical factor of the building," Taylor said. "It was not built with that on there. Period."

Culley said there will be discussions about some of the restrictions on art to figure out how to balance preserving those buildings and making sure art can continue to be a huge part of downtown.

She said anyone with questions about what they can and can't paint, call the landmark commission.

In fact, she said she encourages it so you don't have something painted where it shouldn't be.

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