Alumnus Celebrates Hometown with Vintage Postcard Mural
By Tarah Thomas '16
Monday, June 15, 2015
Reminiscent of a vintage postcard, the mural, Greetings from Siloam Springs, welcomes residents and visitors to the historic downtown of Siloam Springs.
Kirk Demarais, an adjunct instructor for John Brown University, painted the vibrant 60 by 20 foot mural filled with images the Siloam Springs’ community associates with its city.
Demarais came up with design concept in the summer of ’96 when he began collecting vintage graphics of postcards from the 1940s. He thought it would be neat to see the same design treatment applied to the city, but the opportunity did not present itself till this year.
Main Street Siloam Springs, a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown, solicited proposals from artists to create a mural that would provide a visually appealing entry for vehicles and pedestrians, encourage a zeal for the arts and the city of Siloam Springs, and refine downtown Siloam Springs to allure attraction, stated the project proposal.
Demarais' design was chosen from nine finalists. He was given a budget of $6,000, which included his commission, supplies and other costs, to complete the project by May 8th.
“I thought it fit perfectly,” Demarais said. “That idea instantly aligned with the theme of the city, Celebration of Siloam Springs.”
Demarais graduated from JBU in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in art and worked for DaySpring for 10 years before becoming a freelance writer, artist and designer.
Demarais is also the author of two books, “Mail-Order Mysteries,” which delves into the products marketed to kids from the ’60s to ’80s, and “Life of the Party,” which gives the 100-year history of S.S. Adams Company Makers of Pranks & Magic.
Demarais’ art portfolio includes his color pencil portraits of popular fictional TV and movie characters that have been commissioned by celebrities like Kristen Wiig and Warner Brothers Studios and written about in the Huffington Post, Fast Company and Reddit.
Demarais has enjoyed art since he was a child and said being able to contribute his passion for art to his hometown is a once in a lifetime experience.
“I love it. It’s been a long time coming, having lived here especially downtown, you are able to notice the progression over the years,” Demarais said. “I loved being a part of that and to see the strong sense of pride. The town is shaping up to be something really unique.”
Demarais lives with his family in Siloam Springs and continues to enjoy all that the city has to offer.
“The main thing that keeps me here is the deep roots of family and friends,” Demarais said. “The more I travel around, the more ways I find to appreciate this town, especially since I have my own family.”
The mural was the first event of the a new initiative, Beyond the Frame: Experiencing Art in Downtown Siloam Springs, to encourage integration of the arts.
Demarais teaches a variety of art classes at JBU, among his favorite is History of Advertising and Design.
“My dad worked at JBU until he past away in ’94,” Demarais said. “ I grew up on the campus, went to school here, met my wife and now I teach. My life is infused with this school, can’t imagine my life without it. Walking [into the art department] now, it is inspiring to be a part of it and seeing the insane creativity.”