The concept of creating murals in downtown New Braunfels as a way to invigorate the city started in 1995 when members of the Design Review Committee of
New Braunfels Main Street read about a mural project in Chemainus, British Columbia, Canada. Chemainus reinvigorated its struggling downtown by creating murals to depict the town’s history and culture.
“That program brought about complete revitalization of their community,” said Jan Kingsbury, owner of Spass Walking Tours.
The success in Chemainus inspired the New Braunfels committee to follow suit, and in July 1996 the Historic Outdoor Art Museum was established as a nonprofit 501(c)(3).
In 1999, Texas Senate-honored muralist and historian Clinton Baermann painted the first mural in downtown New Braunfels, entitled “City of a Prince.” The mural depicts the arrival of Prince Carl of Solms-Bels in 1844, German settlers who joined him and the establishment of New Braunfels in 1845, Kingsbury said.
Since then, the HOAM has commissioned and overseen the creation of eight total murals, including the mural currently in progress, and one bronze statue of Prince Carl. The statue is located in front of the New Braunfels Civic and Convention Center.
Choosing a new mural’s theme and content is a long process that usually takes two years and includes conducting detailed research, deciding a location, contracting an artist and applying for funding, HOAM Secretary Lois Newton said.
“The subject is always something that we feel is important to honor our heritage and highlight our history,” Newton said. “Once you select a subject, then you have to gather the history. The stories, dates and times of these events has to be authentic.”
After selecting a subject and agreeing upon the design, the HOAM board begins the application process to acquire funding for the project. The murals are paid for through grants, private donations and hotel occupancy tax funds, Newton said.
City hotel tax revenue is used to directly promote tourism and the convention and hotel industry, and the HOAM regularly applies for the use of these funds to contribute to the creation of new murals, according to Newton.•Some capital is made available through the city hotel tax, but private grants and donations are the primary source of funding for the production of each new mural and its dedication ceremony and a commemorative plaque that accompanies each artwork, she said.
Each mural is dedicated to a unique part of the city’s history and is created with the intent to educate both locals and visitors to New Braunfels. Both the board and the artist are involved in researching and designing each artwork.
The newest mural will give a timeline of the area’s rich history of performing and visual arts and depict the evolution of entertainment throughout the decades, said muralist Brent McCarthy, who painted four of the eight murals.
“Music and art is so much a part of our heritage,” Newton said. “There are so many arts in our community that they needed to be highlighted.”
As the HOAM continues to add to the murals downtown, the mission to celebrate local history and support the downtown historic district has remained the same.
“Each [mural] has its own story,” Newton said. “Outdoor public art can bring so much revitalization and diversification to a city.”
“We’re excited for this new mural to be on the Brauntex and for people to see it as they’re coming down Walnut [Avenue] into town,” Brauntex Theater Executive Director Cheryl Fischer said. “It’s wonderful that it will align with the anniversary of the city.”