Idea for Arts Walk of Fame baked into city's 'grand street' project
Within the next few weeks, Denton residents and visitors will start to notice that the sidewalks on East Hickory Street bear the names of artists who have lived in Denton or who were born here.
The names, etched in 2-by-2-foot squares of granite, will be the first phase of the Denton Arts Walk of Fame.
Some names will be instantly recognizable — such as musicians Norah Jones and Ray Wylie Hubbard. Others will be names familiar to longtime Denton residents, such as architect O’Neil Ford or local blues legend Tom “Pops” Carter.
Julie Glover, the Denton economic development program administrator, said the idea for a walk of fame started four years ago.
“Kim Phillips [vice president of the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau] and I decided ... we should be the independent music capital of Texas,” Glover said.
Denton is already the Redbud Capital of Texas, she said, and the two officials thought it was high time to brand the city’s music scene, both for the sake of tourism and for the ongoing development of the city’s arts corridor along East Hickory Street.
They got state Rep. Myra Crownover on board with some other key players, who drew up the documentation and prepared to have a proclamation read on the floor of the Legislature in Austin.
And then officials with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau got wind of it.
“The Austin CVB people called Kim and said, ‘You can’t do that. We have everything covered, and you can’t be independent music,’” Glover said.
Austin’s official designation as music capital of Texas includes blues, country, rock, folk and indie music, Glover said.
“I mean, every single word you could use to describe music is in their proclamation,” she said. “We were pretty bummed. So the people that were with us at that point decided that was a battle they didn’t really want to fight. And we couldn’t blame them.”
Just a few weeks later, Glover was at Dan’s Silverleaf, waiting to see a show by a singer-songwriter and a bassist.
“The singer-songwriter introduced the bass player, saying he was on the South Texas Music Walk of Fame,” she said.
Glover made a note right there in the bar, and when Monday came, she started researching the walk of fame on Corpus Christi’s Water Street.
“So the idea came back: Well, fine. We’re about to tear up Hickory Street. As long as we’re tearing up Hickory Street, let’s do something along here,” she said.
Glover wanted Denton’s walk of fame to be for artists so that a wider variety of people can be inducted into the walk, which will stretch along East Hickory between Bell Avenue and Locust Street.
“We wanted it to be more than musicians. We have a lot of musicians, but we have graphic artists and sculptors and poets, and we’re even including some journalists in there,” Glover said. “Filmmakers are on the list. Actors. We’re trying to cover everything that is art-related in this.”
Twelve artists will be inducted this year, and Glover said the selection committee plans to induct four to six artists each year.
The Arts Walk of Fame is funded through a City of Denton Neighborhood Empowerment Fund grant, and will be administered by the Denton Main Street Association. The walk of fame committee is made up of people from the city’s public art and downtown task forces, arts organization officials and residents involved in historical preservation and filmmaking, Glover said.
The granite has already been added to the sidewalks, and an engraving company will add inductee names on site.
Glover said the cost of each tile is about $800. The cost, covered by the grant money, pays for installation and engraving. The cost of the granite was included in the construction of the East Hickory “grand street” project completed earlier this year.
The granite squares will be simple, naming the inductee and their art form.
“I think our list right now is pretty heavily slanted toward musicians because that’s kind of who we are,” Glover said. “But we tried really hard this first year to work in some artists. We have a poet, an architect, a sculptor.”
There won’t be an official unveiling, but city officials will honor Louise Tobin on Nov. 1, when she will be in Denton to address a local women’s group. A reception will be in the PointBank Black Box Theatre.
There isn’t a formal submission process for Denton residents to nominate inductees, but suggestions can be made by email to Glover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.