Mural paintings have been around for as long as people. From prehistoric cave paintings to ancient Egyptian tombs to the vibrant street art of today, people have been leaving signs of their existence around the world. Stories of life that we will never know, from societies long gone, murals have served as a valuable testimony of our ancestors and our past.
Over time, murals evolved into large-format paintings that covered the interiors of palaces, temples, and churches. By the early 1900s, they became the height of advertising. The exterior walls of large buildings were adorned with murals. They were grand and dramatic. They advertised famous brands with slogans and images that shoppers and travelers could see far and wide. Using this form of large-format wall advertising gave shopkeepers and big-name brands the biggest bang for their buck.
Murals of Bartlett
Bartlett, TX is filled with murals. The recently restored Coca-Cola mural, the Alamo Hotel mural, and the unique Wrigley’s mural can be seen scattered throughout downtown. Several others are tucked away in the alleys and on the patios of renovated townhomes in central Bartlett. I wonder how many have been painted over and are now gone forever?
These advertisements from the early 1900s show artwork that has stood the test of time! How lucky we are to be able to enjoy them today. We can stand under it and wonder what life was like ‘back then’. Or remember a brand from our childhood that no longer exists. The large murals were often centered on the idea of improving life. The General Arthur Cigar ad in Bartlett, like many of the old General Arthur ads, ends with the statement “suits all mankind.” This marketing strategy is peacefully intended to make the purchaser feel connected to his brotherhood.
Since the early 2000s, there has been a comeback of hand-painted advertising murals in cities nationwide. Building owners now clamor for them and pay top dollar to artists who create them. In the age of social media, brands are searching for more meaningful ways to reach their audiences. The hand-painted mural has proven (once again) to be both transformative and captivating. The most interesting fact about the rise and fall and resurgence of mural popularity over the decades is that they have managed to hold on to their initial purpose: To paint a picture of society created from stories, values, dreams, and change.