Mantra mural coming to downtown Fort Smith as part of Bentonville Film Festival collaboration

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,276 views 

Mantra mural on a building in Cancun, Mexico.

The art gods giveth and the art gods taketh away. The downtown Fort Smith mural by Maser near the U.S. Post Office will soon be painted over by French artist Mantra. The work is part of a collaboration between The Unexpected and the Bentonville Film Festival.

Details on the collaboration – first announced April 16 – have also changed, with the two-night program now being one night. The feature film “Turnover” will be presented at 7:30 p.m., May 10, in The Media Center at 5 Star Production, 100 N. Eighth St., in Fort Smith. Doors open at 7 p.m., and tickets are $15 each. Ticket info can be found at the BFF website.

A question-and-answer session with the filmmakers, cast and crew will follow the showing.

“Café owner Peter, leaves his disgruntled manager Henry, to take care of business, but instead he hires a crew of misfits, including his replacement. Peter returns to work and soon learns the value of camaraderie as he bonds with the new team,” notes the BFF synopsis of the film.

Mantra will begin work May 11 on his mural in downtown Fort Smith and is expected to complete it by May 14. His Facebook page provides numerous examples of the range of his work.

“Mantra is known for transforming building architectures into gigantic hyperreal butterfly and insect specimen cases in a series of clever, trick-of-the-eye 3D murals. His murals can be found in Spain, Austria, Bogota, France and soon to be Fort Smith, Arkansas,” according to The Unexpected press release.

As to the Maser mural being replaced, officials with The Unexpected said the murals come and go as part of the “mission” to expose residents to new art.

“While we are always sad to see an older artwork go, we are pleased the artwork has accomplished its mission – exposing those who might not otherwise enjoy world class art the opportunity in a unique setting. We are grateful to Maser for bringing his energy and talent to Fort Smith, and look forward to Mantra’s creation.”

This year’s film festival is set for May 7-11, with the event including two new categories – the international narrative feature film and the international documentary feature film. The event also will include four or five movie premieres or sneak peaks showing at event venue Record, panel discussions at 21c Museum Hotel, and nearly 40 films in the competition showing at six-screen Skylight Cinema.

The event will conclude with an awards ceremony May 11. Nearly 85,000 people attended the 2018 festival, and organizers expect a similar number or more attendees for the 2019 event. In 2015, the event had 35,000 attendees.

The festival was co-founded by Academy Award winner Geena Davis & Inclusion Companies CEO Trevor Drinkwater.

The Unexpected is entering its fifth year. Steve Clark, CEO of Fort Smith-based Propak and founder of 646.6 Downtown, which manages The Unexpected, received the 2019 Governor’s Arts Award for launching The Unexpected.

The Unexpected also was the 2017 Henry Award winner for Community Tourism Development and is designed “to bring high-quality urban and contemporary art to Arkansas alongside their curatorial partner, the international creative house, Justkids.” Justkids is a creative house that conceives and produces art projects internationally.

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