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MuralFest to leave a lasting impact in Downtown Odessa

Four murals that celebrate Odessa's designation as a music-friendly community highlight several pieces of artwork in the inaugural festival.

ODESSA, Texas — Odessa Arts is hosting its inaugural MuralFest in Downtown Odessa Saturday from 5-9 p.m.

On Friday night, a preview event took place, where several artists were in attendance ahead of the work being showcased to the community. 

Randy Ham, the Executive Director of Odessa Arts, was also in attendance, and he shared what will make this festival unique. 

“Unlike other festivals, we have permanent leave behinds," said Ham. "When the trash is picked up, when all the vendors are gone, we’ll still have four new murals downtown, we’ll have 12 new traffic boxes all covered with art by local artists, five pianos that have been painted by local artists, so the effects of MuralFest will last way beyond just the one-day festival.” 

As MuralFest gets set to officially make its mark on Downtown Odessa, there is representation behind every mural. 

“All four of them are by really talented artists that wanted to come here to Odessa and create something that was intrinsically part of the fabric of our community, and I think it’s so great that we have everything from a celebration of DJ culture, to a celebration of jazz music in these murals," said Ham. 

With Odessa recently designated as a music-friendly community, all four murals celebrate that honor. 

Preparation for this event has taken two years, and the artists have worked for weeks on their creations. For some of them, it is clear how much it means for their artwork to become part of Odessa. 

“When you introduce art into a city that either doesn’t have it on every corner or is just starting to, every single piece has such a big impact, so it was really special to not only paint in Odessa this time, but it’s my second mural in the town, so to grow a relationship with a city that’s so ready and excited to receive art really means a lot," said Koda Witsken, the lead artist for MuralFest and artist of the jazz mural. 

This type of artwork will leave a lasting impact on the community. 

“I feel that, [with] the community being so small, many more people know each other, and when you activate a space it effects more people," said Dan Thompson, artist of the DJ mural. "I feel like, it’s a city but has a small-town feel, so when you do something big like public art, I think it has a really noticeable impact on the way people appreciate it." 

Thompson also mentioned that murals become landmarks in a community, while Witsken noted that art in Odessa means more there than in most places. 

Live music, food trucks and more activity will be present Saturday evening at MuralFest, and the event is free to the public. 

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