HUMOR: The New Downtown Mural in Stinkwater Springs

The quaint rural town of Stinkwater Springs unveiled its latest public art installation last week — a new 8 foot by 20 foot mural on Main Street, created by local artist Doug Graves. The design was decided during a competition held last September, when Mr. Graves successfully bested fellow artist Fannie Tickler in a mud wrestling match held in Town Park.

New mural on the 400 block of Main Street, by artist Doug Graves.

The new mural replaces an earlier mural that had begun to peal and fade, generally showing its age. That earlier mural had depicted tourists walking down Main Street, taking photographs of a mural.

The Daily Post had an opportunity to interview Mr. Graves following Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, right after he had received his check for $89 from Mayor Rich Avocado, and just moments before he headed for the Stinkwater Bar to cash it.

Daily Post: So, Doug, this is a pretty unusual concept for a downtown mural. The other murals we’ve seen at this location, over the years, have generally featured mountains, trees and big game animals, or maybe horses. This is a totally different concept.

Graves: Yeah, that’s pretty obvious. I think most people will notice right away that I came up with something unique and unexpected. I mean, considering the Town’s budget of $89 dollars and all…

But why give people what they expect? To me, the best art contains a huge element of surprise. I want people to stop in their tracks, and scratch their heads.

Daily Post: Well, I’ll admit I’m scratching my head… and I’m having a hard time identifying the style of your piece. It’s not exactly ‘Abstract Expressionist’… or ‘Surrealist.’ Maybe ‘Cubist’?

Close-up detail of new Main Street mural.

Graves: I took a lot of art history classes at the university, studying all those ‘schools of art,’ and finally decided that I wanted my art to thoroughly transcend “style.” I mean, what is “style” anyway? It means you keep painting the same picture over and over, trying to get it right. Seems like a colossal waste of time to me.

Daily Post: So, I have to ask… are those actual cement blocks? Or is this a painting of cement blocks? I’ve looked pretty closely, and I can’t tell for sure.

Graves: That’s part of the artistic mystery, and why folks are going find the mural so utterly fascinating. Are they real cement blocks? They look real. But… it could possibly be an extremely detailed painting, right?

So I’m not saying which. Let the viewers have their own interpretations.

Daily Post: But maybe you have your own interpretation? Are you trying to say something to the viewer?

Graves: Say something? Yeah, maybe… like, ‘Here’s the kind of mural you get for $89, so suck it up.’

Daily Post: Do you have any advice for the young artist who’s trying to break into this market — the creation of public art?

Graves: Sure. ‘Learn how to mud wrestle.’


Louis Cannon

Underrated writer Louis Cannon grew up in the vast American West, although his ex-wife, given the slightest opportunity, will deny that he ever grew up at all.