The mural honors authors Alice Walker, Flannery O’Connor and Joel Chandler Harris.

Article and photos By Lynn Hobbs
The Eatonton Messenger
April 27, 2017

From the first organizer to the final installers and everyone in between – the many people involved in getting the new mural displayed in downtown Eatonton were recognized during a special reveal ceremony Friday afternoon, April 21.

The mural, which depicts local famous authors, now hangs on the wall of the Georgia Writers Museum’s future permanent home, next to Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Kevin Tomson-Hooper, left, president of the Artisans Village, listens as Artist Gail Vail describes how the mural, which she designed, depicts the Lake Country’s three most famous authors.

One of several designs submitted by local artists, this one by Gail Vail was selected by the community via votes on social media and at art festivals. The mural recognizes the literature of Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker and Joel Chandler Harris.

“Sometimes I think we’re too modest when it comes to bragging about our town … But there comes a time when it’s good to let people know about something we have that’s outstanding, and that’s why we’re here today,” Eatonton Mayor Walt Rocker Jr. said to the 30 or so attendees standing in the parking lot beside the mural. “We’re celebrating a new addition to Eatonton – a wonderful piece of public art that lets people know we’re a town with a rich and robust history and a close connection with the arts. It tells Eatonton’s rich, literary history through the eyes and hands of our own artists and friends.”

Rocker recognized Larry Moore, Sara Tomson-Hooper, Gail Vail, Valerie Aranda, Paige Barlow and others who worked tirelessly to get the mural funded through donations and grants, and then painted. Putnam County Board of Commissioners Chairman Dr. Steve Hersey also recognized Moore as “the driving force behind many projects in Putnam County.”

Putnam County Charter School System Superintendent Eric Arena, left, publicly thanks Putnam County High School art teacher Paige Barlow, center, and Georgia College art professor Valerie Aranda for their guidance of students who painted the mural.

Putnam County Charter School System Superintendent Eric Arena thanked the Briar Patch Arts Council, the Board of Commissioners and the community, “for our students,” he said.

“Three thousand students’ lives will be enriched because art will be a part of their lives.”

Realizing the fruit of their labors are artist/mural designer Gail Vail, PCHS art teacher Paige Barlow, GCSU art professor Valerie Aranda, and PCHS and GCSU art students.

Commissioner Alan Foster said he did not realize how many people were involved until he personally attended one of the painting sessions. ”These students will enjoy this forever because every time they look at it, they will remember they were a part of this,” he noted.

Finally, Artisans Village President Kevin Tomson-Hooper recognized Putnam County employees “Mark and Lonnie, who worked more than five hours to carefully install the mural without damaging the historical brick of the building.”