Farmers Park, Springfield’s premier mixed-use community, is home to one of the city’s newest—and largest—murals, and the eye-catching artwork is creating quite the buzz. The mural is part of an ongoing “culture made vs. nature made” series that’s coming to life at Farmers Park and Quarry Town in Galloway village.
Throughout the year, Green Circle Projects has been installing a collection of works from various artists that will continue this month with a second mural at Farmers Park by Fayetteville, Arkansas-based artist Jason Jones. “We’re very aware that our work exists on the delicate line between human enterprise and the timeless enterprise of nature,” said Matt O’Reilly, development director for Green Circle Projects. “This is where humans must be mindful of the balance between deriving value from nature while also preserving it. The line between the two is as often a battle line as it is a unifying one, and these works will hopefully prompt that conversation.”
Informally known as “The Pollinator,” the newest piece by Jones is a playful vignette that captures the interaction between a hovering honeybee and a 25-foot tall android figure with arms, legs and purple flowers sprouting from its neck. The plant’s roots are visible in the bot’s diorama-like torso, and it’s clutching a bright green watering can. “The concept behind the Farmers Park mural is about the interaction between technology and nature,” Jones said. “Much of technology ultimately does harm to nature. In a whimsical way, I was thinking about technology that’s solely designed to help and benefit nature.”
Jones, 43, began painting the mural in July right as summer really started to sizzle, with temperatures hitting the mid-90s during his first week on the job. To beat the heat, he started early each day and used a lift outfitted with an umbrella for shade. Frequent breaks and lots of water were key to getting the job done. Well before the first brushstroke, Jones sketched the mural and worked out the measurements on paper. Once on site, he started by gridding the wall to scale and then sketching the image with chalk on the west façade of the building that houses Guaranty Bank’s corporate offices. Jones used a combination of spraying, rollers and paint brushes to complete the striking mural, which is visible from Republic Road. His stay in Springfield was short, but Jones enjoyed speaking with Farmers Park visitors and being so close to Farmers Market of the Ozarks.
“There was a great vibe at Farmers Park,” he said. “All the people were kind, and it was nice to be able to get amazing food and fresh produce while working on site.” Jones painted his first mural at 14. He rode his bike back and forth to the job and was paid in movie rentals. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Arkansas in 2000 and started painting murals for a living that same year. He’s been doing it ever since, and his portfolio now includes more than 100 murals in Northwest Arkansas.
Jones will be returning to Springfield next week to paint another mural at Farmers Park—this time on the south side of the building that houses restaurant-and-bar combo Progress and Reverie. He’s scheduled to start work on the new mural Monday, October 7.
Also this summer, Springfield artists Andrea Ehrhardt and Emily Million completed a new mural at Quarry Town that depicts a mother black bear and her cub crossing over the railroad tracks from their natural wooded habitat to modern civilization. The expansive scene, which includes an intense crouching cougar, wraps around the corner of the building that houses Great Escape Beer Works. Andrea also painted Octavia the Octopus inside the brewery.
In addition to Jones’ new murals, Farmers Park is home to several interactive art installations, including the Cloud House, Frankentractor and Harmony Park. The park also hosts the Farmers Park Art Show each fall, and this year’s event is scheduled October 19–20. Green Circle Projects is also planning murals and new artwork at Red Barn, the Natural State’s first agrihood in Bentonville, Ark.
-- Matt Wagner, Green Circle Projects