Spring had arrived in Tonkawa by the time I returned for the mural design team's first meeting on April 8th. Red buds were in full bloom. Kids skateboarded down Main Street. Garage and rummage sales seemed to emerge out of front yards, along with daffodils and tulips, on every block.
I dropped my bags off at the Tonkawa Funeral Home. We'll actually in the beautiful B&B on the second floor directly above the funeral home. Originally used by relatives of the deceased who wanted to stay with the body of their loved one, the proprietors Edward and Carla Blackwell, have graciously opened up this three bedroom apartment for the muralists to stay in during the project.
As part of the community process, the mural design team is a group composed of about fifteen people from Tonkawa, young and old, long-time residents and recent transplants, students and business people, from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, who can bring a range of perspectives and experiences to the table. Their personal knowledge of Tonkawa and their individual visions for the mural will be integral to creating an art work that has lasting meaning for the community. We first met as a group in the ceramics studio at Northern Oklahoma College, where Audrey Schmitz teaches, and began by imagining how we would like to describe the finished mural, and what were essential images that we felt needed to be included.
I wrote as the group imagined, remembered, and predicted. After an hour or so, we had a list of over a hundred images, places, historical events, and people - enough for five murals at least. At the end of our meeting, we decided that to further our research in the next few days we would 1) do research at the local historical museum, 2) take a walking tour of important spots downtown and photograph them, and 3) set-up 'Give us your two cents about the mural' booths at the Methodist Church pancake breakfast/rummage sale and at Dorsetts Grocery Store (seen below).