Let’s go for a walk. We’re starting in downtown Denton at the PointBank Black Box Theatre on Hickory Street, and we’ll head west toward the Square.
Before we take our first step, though, let’s look down at the sidewalk. Notice the pattern? On both sides of Hickory Street between Bell and Locust streets, a brick band runs parallel to the concrete. Evenly placed within this band, granite squares are laid into the concrete.
We are on the Denton Arts Walk of Fame.
This stone here in front of the Black Box Theatre celebrates musician Louise Tobin. Her’s was the first marker unveiled back in 2015, the Walk of Fame’s inaugural year. Twelve granite squares were engraved between 2015 and 2016 honoring artists with Denton connections. Texas Poet Laureate Karla Morton’s was next after Tobin’s.
Every one of the honored-in-granite are artists of myriad genres ranging from music, literature and theater to film, architecture, visual arts and more. Brave Combo, Pops Carter, Midlake, O’Neil Ford and Jesus Morales are examples of other recipients.
As we make our way along the Arts Walk of Fame, you’ll notice many more granite stones than the 12 engraved thus far. That’s because the Walk of Fame funding happens in waves, by fiscal years. Someday, every granite stone will be engraved. A multitude of talent connects to Denton, but there’s only money enough to tackle such a vast project a step at a time, so to speak.
This past Thursday, the Denton Main Street Association announced the 2017 Arts Walk of Fame inductees. There are eight on this year’s list. In case you haven’t seen the lineup yet, here it is:
Leon Breedon, musician
John Ford Coley, musician
Paula Blincoe Collins, sculptor
Carlotta Corpron, photographer
Margo Jones, producer/director
Tom “Bones” Malone, musician
Lou Marini, musician
Neal Slater, musician
The Arts Walk of Fame is a facet of the Downtown Master Plan, a plan that resulted from a citizen-driven idea developed in 1995 called “Vision for Denton — the 21st Century.” That idea included an arts and entertainment corridor along East Hickory as a major priority.
Today, we Dentonites and thousands of visitors to our city enjoy the fruits of that focus every day. Downtown is the thriving, culturally rich city center, and still growing.
“There are more than 100 names on a list compiled by the Arts Walk of Fame Committee,” said Julie Glover, downtown development manager and city staff liaison for the project. “We envision anywhere from eight to 12 inductees each year long into the future. Public input will continue to be valuable in their considerations.”
How does the committee assess potential inductees? Nominees must have been born in Denton, or attended school or spent their formative/creative years here or had a national impact on our cultural heritage.
Other considerations include longevity of career, professional achievements, contributions to the Denton arts community or contribution to national arts.
The more honorees are engraved in granite, the more value I believe the Arts Walk of Fame will be to our Denton tourism product. It memorializes talented individuals who have contributed to the local arts community and expresses appreciation to them.
Granite stones include the name of the artist and their claim to fame, such as musician, sculptor, actor, journalist. For those who want to delve deeper, understand artists’ bodies of work and their Denton connection, those details are available at www.discoverdenton.com.
In the business of delivering the best possible #dentoning experiences, we all see a day in the not-too-distant future when people will linger at each granite marker and employ augmented reality on their smartphones to get the full stories.
One 2017 Arts Walk of Fame event is already on the books. John Ford Coley, American singer and musician best known for the 1970s hit duo England Dan & John Ford Coley, will participate in person when his marker is unveiled on Saturday, June 10.
“I’m highly honored that I am included in the Denton Arts Walk of Fame,” Coley said.
Everyone is invited to all of these events, and when possible, artists are there, too. Louise Tobin was. Karla Morton was. John Ford Coley will be. Many more in the days and years to come will be, too.
Our walk today was Hickory Street to Locust Street and then back again on the other side of the road. This year, we’ll add eight more names among these granite markers for a total of 20. Imagine the wealth of this walk in just a few more years. It’s happening, one step at a time.
KIM PHILLIPS is vice president of the Denton Convention & Visitors Bureau at the Denton Chamber of Commerce. She loves promoting Denton’s original, independent spirit through the city’s sense of place and cast of many characters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.