Houston artist Anat Ronen is wrapping her mural around the back of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, 607 S. Friendswood Drive, as downtown revitalization turns a corner in Friendswood.
The mural is the first of many that will help define downtown and create a sense of place, said Brett Banfield, president of Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association.
Hiring Ronen was a joint effort of the Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association, the Friendswood Historical Society and Friendswood Fine Arts. The three organizations got a $10,000 public improvement grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council with the intention of getting murals in downtown Friendswood.
“Murals are a great way to interject arts and culture in an area,” Banfield said.
The plan is to have more murals downtown, or anywhere along Friendswood Drive from FM 2351 to just past Stevenson Park. Banfield has identified 15 potential sites, and has a goal of talking at least eight property owners into having artists paint murals on their walls with different themes.
The first mural, the one that Ronen has almost completed, has a historic theme to tie it to the Frank J. Brown Heritage Museum across the street. And while it does have a historic theme, it’s modern art.
“I don’t like murals to be wallpaper,” said Ronen, an urban artist who specializes in surreal large images.
Painting murals in small towns is a way to bring history back, she said.
“Friendswood has a small-town feel,” she said.
It took Ronen two weeks to paint most of the 86-foot-by-23-foot mural. The project has had its challenges, with some board members not wanting to veer too far from a flat, traditional sign.
“I insisted on adding stuff that is not traditional,” Ronen said. “I want stuff that pops.”
Her mural is a compromise. It’s not everything she wanted, but she got some of her ideas on the wall.
Her mural features a huge, old-fashioned sign floating in the sky. She painted a giant red bird and a freshly cut fig in the foreground. With a nod to the Quakers who founded the town and their values of faith, family and education, Ronen captured essential elements of Friendswood. Around the corner, she is working on a horse and a space shuttle. It was a way to combine the old and the new, Ronen said.
“I’m happy to collaborate on work with different people,” she said.
Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association has 20 members on its board as well as a nine-member advisory board. The association formed in 2015.