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CLARION LEDGER - "MARTIN'S PANORAMIC MURAL BACK IN PROGRESS

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The originally planned panoramic mural project at Martin's Restaurant and Bar is back on, and artist Jason Jenkins is making colorful progress on a canvas roughly 1,500 square feet in size.


A show of hands? Jenkins' are green. Sky, background and trees got the brush-on that day.


The music-themed mural had already begun to take shape in drawing last fall but was halted after the owner of the adjacent vacant lot, who also owns a portion of the wall, raised concerns.


Martin's owner Joseph Stodghill refocused attention around the corner, where Jenkins painted several smaller murals that now greet Martin's patrons at its Commerce Street entrance. But the building's north wall, with its 10½-by-143-foot "canvas," still loomed.


Visible to 33,000 motorists who pass through the intersection of Pearl and State streets daily, it's one of downtown Jackson's busiest entry points.


Property owners came to an agreement, and the project got the green light.


"Thank goodness," said Stodghill. Cooler heads, reasoning "and a little bit of begging as well," helped, he said, as well as some aid from others, including Downtown Jackson Partners' Ben Allen. Stodghill agreed to maintain the vacant lot and keep it clear of trash and debris.


Allen said he's pleased that Stodghill and Robert Paine of Oxford, who owns the adjacent lot, reached a resolution so the mural could continue. "All downtowns that are successful have community art throughout the downtown.


"It's going to look beautiful. It's going to be really, really cool."


"It's like deja vu, but a bigger canvas," said Jenkins, who was back on the job as soon as they could arrange the lift, filling in color from the wall's Commerce side and working toward the State Street end.


"It's kind of like painting on sandpaper," he said during a break. "It wears out your brushes and your elbow." But, he wouldn't want to be doing anything else. "People love it. Coming down Pearl, they're honking the horn" with a friendly "beep, beep."


He's drawing and painting in tandem now, to give passers-by a sense of the progress. With the scale, it can be a laborious process, up and down on the lift or ladder at about 10-minute intervals to walk away and get the big-picture perspective. He shows up clean daily and by afternoon, acrylic paint flecks his legs, and his hands are the same color as his landscape. But he wears a grin when he talks about it and has a goal of starting mural projects in schools.


"It's good for the community. It's going to brighten up everything."


The time frame for completion is about 30 days, "Mother Nature willing," Stodghill said.


Jenkins said, "I'm just trying to make Jackson more beautiful. And it needs it, man."


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