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New Murals in Historic Downtown Capture City’s Dichotomy


Murals in McKinney | Image by City of McKinney

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Months of painting have created a new piece of public artwork to be enjoyed in the historic downtown McKinney cultural district.

The mural is 100 feet tall and painted on the silos found in historic McKinney near East Virginia and Main Streets, the City website shares. This work was created by Guido van Helten, an Australian artist who has achieved critical acclaim for his murals.

Van Helten shared with North Texas e-News (NTXE) that before painting, he spent time in McKinney so the mural could more accurately reflect the growing city.

“The artwork is a snapshot of the unique atmosphere and moment in this community as it continues to shift and grow,” he said. “With a considered, culture-focused approach, I wanted to ensure that the artwork on a heritage industrial structure remains relevant as this city expands around it.”

Explaining the figures he had painted, van Helten said they “act as semiotic illustrations of the togetherness and promise the City of McKinney provides to its diverse population.”

The artist spent time looking at thousands of photos, visiting nonprofits and small businesses, and interacting with hundreds of city residents before starting work on the McKinney silos mural project.

During his time in McKinney, van Helten also held a workshop with students at Faubion Middle School, visited places of worship, and recorded interviews.

The silos sit in the city’s industrial area and will soon be a backdrop for the new McKinney City Hall. Construction on that portion of McKinney’s redevelopment project for the area is expected to start later this month.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller shared that van Helten’s mural captures the depth of the community.

“This art has a lot of layers, which you can see with the depth of field represented in the piece. To me, it represents the layers of our community,” Fuller told NTXE. “McKinney isn’t just one thing; we have a balance of the historic and the new, the old and the young, growing amenities and open spaces, a large city but a hometown feel. Our dichotomy is our strength.”

Historic downtown McKinney was designated as a cultural district in 2018 and holds various public art projects. In addition to the new silos mural project, there are other murals and the Monarchs of McKinney sculptures.

City Manager Paul Grimes told NTXE that public artworks are important for communities.

Together, the public art pieces “give our community a stronger sense of identity, help differentiate ourselves, and celebrate the power of ideas and images,” Grimes said. “These silos are now an iconic spot in our community, and we are thrilled with how they turned out.”

The McKinney silos mural project was paid for by donations from multiple entities, some taxpayer-funded, the City website shares.

Benefactors are those who donated $25,000 or more to the project, which included Visit McKinney, the Texas Commission on the Arts, H-E-B, and Columbus Realty Partners Ltd. Other donation levels were patron, advocate, ally, admirer, and friend & artist. Over five dozen McKinney families and individuals helped to fund the project.

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