In recent years, drivers heading north from Greenville on US Highway 69 have been greeted by several colorful murals as they pass through downtown Celeste.
The murals, which regularly lure travelers out of their cars to take quick selfies, are the work of Celeste High School art students and their teacher Crawford Moore, who painted them as part of a annual senior public art project.
“I taught art here for 30 years, but when we started with public art (in 2016) it was a game changer,” Moore said. “The community provided additional support and the murals were a source of local pride, allowing the children to really make an impact.”
Over the past few weeks, the seniors of Moore’s Art Class 4 have taken the time to come out and paint the school’s sixth mural, which is located across from City Hall and will be the first to face west instead of east.
“So far, all of our murals have been along Highway 69 facing Greenville,” Moore explained. “That way, when people pass by, they will immediately see all these murals.
“Now we’re adding our first side to Leonard, so no matter which direction people go, maybe they’ll start to think of Celeste as the small town with the cool art,” he added. with a smile.
Depicting a steam locomotive and the greeting “Welcome to Celeste”, the final mural in the class references the town’s history as a railway town.
“The town is actually named after the wife of a Santa Fe railroad official, whose name was Celeste,” Moore said.
The students began the process of deciding and designing the mural in February.
“We all tried a lot of things but finally settled on an old-fashioned train,” student Kylie Braswell said. “At first we went back and forth between giving the mural a vintage (weathered) look or making it bright and colorful, and we went with the brighter look.”
Ultimately deciding to adopt a “postcard style” concept for the design, the students each produced several sketches as they reviewed the design.
“The actual painting is the easy part,” Moore said. “With public art, it takes a lot of planning and rehearsal to get it right. Nothing should be left to chance.
“We use a projected image as a template when we paint the murals, but even with that we practice using the projector and doing it on a smaller scale in the classroom,” Moore explained. “That way if we mess something up, we can erase it and fix it before we go out and do it for real.”
So far, the students have spent about a day and a half painting the mural and hope to finish after another day or two of work.
“We being at the mercy of the weather, the kids have asked for extra work in their classrooms that they can do on bad weather days so they can be allowed to paint on sunny days,” Moore mentioned.
“Really, we’re just happy to do something that adds value to the city. It’s like when you’re trying to add value to an old house, one of the most cost-effective ways to do that is to use some nice new paint.