Hot Springs ‘Black Broadway’ mural celebrates African-American entertainment heritage

by Tina Alvey Dale (tdale@talkbusiness.net) 312 views 

A mural celebrating the black cultural and entertainment community along Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs from the 1930s to the 1960s is near completion.

“The mural celebrates the history and culture of the Malvern Avenue region between Grand Avenue and Convention Boulevard which, during its heyday, was referred to by some as ‘Black Broadway,’” said Mary Zunick, cultural affairs director of Visit Hot Springs, in a press release on the mural.

The mural at 350 Malvern Ave. is on the side of the Habitat for Humanity Restore building. Italian artist Pepe Gaka (Giuseppe Percivati), Anthony Tidwell and many young artists have worked together to create the mural, Zunick said.

“They are creating an image that will not only be a beautiful piece of public art, but which also will serve as reminder for generations to come of the vibrant history and culture of Hot Springs,” she said.

Members of the community and musicians from the Hot Springs World Class High School Band were used as models for the figures shown in the mural.

“Working with Giuseppe has been an incredible opportunity for me and the young artists from Cutwell 4 Kids. Giuseppe has painted murals all over the world, so we are so grateful to have had the chance to learn from someone with so much experience and look forward to being able to paint more murals in our community,” said Tidwell, founder and executive director of Cutwell 4 Kids.

Through the 1930s, ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, the section of Malvern Avenue from Grand Avenue to Convention Boulevard was “home to a thriving and widely renowned variety of entertainment enterprises that saw world-famous African-American entertainers and others perform during visits to The Spa City” the release said.

The mural was funded by grants from the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and Wells Fargo Foundation, in partnership with Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, Cutwell 4 Kids and Gateway Community Association. Numerous other community partners including businesses and individuals also gave to the project, Zunick said.

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