Liberty County now has several eye-catching murals with the newest ones displayed on the Fregia Insurance Services TWFG building, 1399 N. Main St., in Liberty, and the Kountry Kitchen building, 313 N. Main St., in Dayton. Both are the collaborations between the building owners and Houston artist Cherry Meekins.
On Wednesday, Aug. 10, the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and the City of Dayton held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Kountry Kitchen mural. Fregia Insurance Services, owned by Milton Fregia, and the City of Liberty held a celebration for the Liberty mural on Aug. 1. The most recent murals are the fifth and sixth murals Meekins has created in Liberty County.
Her artwork also can be seen on Tracy Williams State Farm office, 1710 N. Main, Liberty; Bear Plumbing, 106 Cook St., Dayton; former Cleveland Advocate building, 106 E. Hanson St., Cleveland (now owned by Clint and Dana Pendleton); and the Dayton Sports Bar and Grill, 401 W. Clayton St., Dayton.
Meekins now is looking toward a seventh mural for Liberty County – this next one expected to be for the Texan Theater building at 102 E. Houston St., Cleveland, also owned by the Pendletons.
The new Dayton mural pays homage to the city’s history through the use of black-and-white photographs, a stalk of rice, bluebonnets and a Texas flag shaped like the Lone Star State.
“This is the biggest mural I have done so far. I believe it solidifies me as a mural artist, especially a solo mural artist,” Meekins told Bluebonnet News. “It was a lot of hard work. Creating the black and white art for the mural was a lot harder than color art. You only have three colors to work with for black and white art.”
The photos used for the Kountry Kitchen mural are a tribute to Dayton’s history in farming and logging, and show horse-drawn carriages and the old railroad depot.
Meekins’ new mural at the Fregia Insurance Services TWFG building in Liberty took a completely different twist and paid tribute to first responders and military personnel. Under a banner of “Thank you for your service,” there are six different people painted with one half of each character painted with their military or first responder side, and the other side showing their civilian side.
“The building owner, Milton Fregia, wanted that mural to be reflective of the entire community. It’s a representation of everyone who lives in Liberty County. It’s a dedication piece and I am thankful that he trusted me with it,” Meekins said. “I am really proud of that one.”
The Fregia Insurance Services TWFG mural was funded through the City of Liberty’s façade grant program, offered through the Liberty Community Development Corporation. Assistant City Manager Chris Jarmon explained that the City allocates $100,000 to the façade program every year, though only recently has funding from this program been used for murals.
“The max that is available through the façade grant program is $20,000. The LCDC will go 50/50 with a business up to the $20,000 grant limit. Any improvements more than $40,000 will have to be paid by the business owner, but you will still get $20,000. The only people who qualify for these grants are businesses that are already here. It is not designed for new businesses,” Jarmon said.
Currently the City of Liberty is the only one of the three major cities to offer grants for façade improvements or murals. The City of Cleveland makes grants for beautification efforts on a case-by-case basis. The City of Dayton provides a flat $10,000 to the Dayton Enhancement Committee and the committee decides how that money will be spent on projects.
For more information on Cherry Meekins, go online to https://www.meekcherryartistry.com/