The outer walls of the Lafayette Science Museum will soon be graced with five new murals as part of a larger effort to boost public art in and around downtown.
If all goes well, the murals will be finished by spring 2016 in time for the third and final installment of the museum’s popular “Fossil Giants” exhibit series, said Kevin Krantz, the museum’s curator.
“They were awesome. He really did his homework,” Krantz said of the mural sketches presented by artist Chris Pavlik.
Krantz said Pavlik came up with the idea to apply for a grant to fund the paintings and to have the murals depict the five areas of focus within the museum: dinosaurs, crystal and rock formations, outer space, birds and mammals, and insects.
Pavlik will work with muralist Robert Dafford on the project.
“I want to draw on (the museum staff’s) expertise in the subjects to really fine-tune the final plans. After I finalize the sketches, I’m hoping to start work on the walls early this spring,” Pavlik said. “I really want to use the murals to bring attention to the fascinating subjects that lie within.”
Pavlik recently moved to Lafayette with his wife, who is pursuing a doctorate in biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The first time he and his wife visited downtown Lafayette, he said he noticed the spaces on the side of the museum that could be used for a series of small murals.
“With my wife’s science background and my mural background, it seemed perfect,” Pavlik said.
The nonprofit Downtown Lafayette Unlimited provided a grant for the murals through its Creativity Everywhere program. It was one of a handful of grants awarded by the nonprofit this year to local artists for downtown projects.
“This year, for the first time, our nonprofit organization, Downtown Lafayette Unlimited, provided funds to members of the public to implement art projects downtown,” said Kate Durio, director of marketing and events for the nonprofit.
She said so far they’ve awarded $12,500.
“This is my favorite downtown initiative since it not only improves the district but puts money in the hands of local artists and reinvests in downtown,” Durio said.
This year, the organization received 15 applications for grants for public art projects, but Durio said choosing the museum was a “no-brainer” since the museum and the artist were working together.
Small projects have been implemented in downtown Lafayette through the Creativity Everywhere program since the second half of 2013, Durio said.
“(The goal) was to make downtown seem as creative as it actually is,” Durio said. “It’s not only the cultural center of Lafayette, but it’s the cultural center of Acadiana.”
Other downtown art projects funded through the grants include a mural of Louisiana Irises on the side of the Jefferson Street Pub and stained-glass installations at city-parish government’s Rosa Parks Transportation Center.