By Karen Yekel
HOT SPRINGS -- What do colorful beads, masks, costumes, and music have in common? Mardi Gras, the long-awaited time of year in New Orleans that has become a reason to party if ever there was one.
A reason to party on Saturday, Feb. 3, is just what’s happening at Bourbon County in Hot Springs.
Mardi Gras for Murals is a fundraiser for the Cultural Development Organization (CDO), which is responsible for many of the murals adorning Hot Springs’ buildings. Diane Gross, President of the CDO, requests the honor of your presence at what sounds like an excellent evening out in the dead of winter.
“CDO began in 2006 with a small group who wanted to share history, art and the creative nature as well as boost the economy of Hot Springs,” said Gross.
What became of the idea translated into a small group with a mission of promoting, funding, and managing projects for the long-term expansion of the fine arts, architectural arts, and cultural heritage of Hot Springs and Fall River County.
As a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, the group began the transformation of buildings in Hot Springs to be the canvas for public art: murals.
“Today you see how private donors, business owners and the public work together to provide these cultural experiences,” Gross said, adding that attendees of this weekend’s Mardi Gras event will help put a new mural up in town, while also getting a chance to ‘party’ with their friends.
The event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. There will be music, featuring jazz and blues, games, a ‘make a mask’ contest, costumes and more, in addition to a cash bar and New Orleans style hors d’oeuvres.
For only $20 a person, Gross said, “We can continue to turn history into public art using buildings as our canvases.”
Gross said the CDO is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club for the next mural, on the side of the car wash on University Ave. The CDO was awarded an $800 grant from the Fall River Area First Interstate Foundation to move forward with this project.
Previous mural projects included: ‘Fall River Falls’ 2007 (artist Ross Burden) on North River Street, ‘Minnekahta Avenue’ 2010 (artist Del IronCloud) on South Chicago Street, ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ 2012 (artist Mike Tuma) on the American Legion building, ‘Branding Time’ 2013 (artist Maria March) and “A Perfect World” 2015 (artist Evans Flammond) on the Barnyard Vet building, “Reflections” 2015 (artist Maria March) on the Evans Plunge building, and “Spirit of the Springs” 2016 (artist Maria March) on the CBH Cooperative building, which heralds in the National mammal – the bison – in brilliant colors on the corner of North River and Jennings.
Tickets for the Feb. 3 event are available at Black Hills Books & Treasures, Mornin’ Sunshine, Hot Springs Chamber, Bourbon County, and at the door.
This mural entitled “Spirit of the Springs” was painted by local artist Maria March in 2016 and represents the most recent CDO mural.