AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED:Mural goes on display

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

An 80-by-20 foot mural that spans the building wall on the corner of Troy and Springs streets will officially become one of Tupelo's first permanent public art displays today.

The mural, sculpted and painted on the Reed's Gift Shop and Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore building, will be dedicated in a ceremony at 12:45 p.m. today.

The dedication is the culmination of a project that began in January and enlisted the help of the Reed's employees.

Jack Reed Jr., president of Reed's, came up with idea for the mural after viewing public art in cities such as Chicago. "In my travels I have been in cities and had been impressed with some of their public art displays," Reed said.

Reed approached artist Morris McCain about creating a display on the wall that he characterized as plain. McCain, 53, who has painted since he was 18, has painted seven murals in the Reed's stores.

In the beginning

The first step was to decide on a theme. With help from employees, Reed and McCain placed on a mantle books by southern writers, pottery, a candlestick and candle, china and other items sold in the Gift Shop and Book Store.

After being photographed, the items were replicated on a grand scale on the building wall. A 9-inch book on the shelf became a 9-foot book on the mural. The candle and candlestick holder are 12-feet tall.

Items sculpted from Styrofoam and glued to the wall with a cement-like primer adhesive gives the mural a three-dimensional effect. The same mixture, spread on the front of the pieces, helped create a smooth hard finish.

Four gallons of paint in various colors were needed to complete the mural.

McCain began working on the mural in July. He has put in 300 hours preparing and painting the mural.

He initially worked Tuesdays and Sundays, but as the project grew he increased the time he spent on the project.

As he put the final touches on the mural Tuesday he was stopped several times by residents who offered praise.

"That just tickles me," he said about compliments from a passerby. "I don't want them to think too much about who did this. I want them to be pleased with it and to feel better about things."

"It amazes me the people who stop and talk about it. I'm proud to have it here," McCain said. "I want to leave something behind to my son and I'm glad it is this."

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