Artful Mayhem Studio is a kid-focused creative arts center in Keller, that promotes structured art education in addition to freestyle intuitive creativity. The business has been creating art for over seven years. On Nov. 14, Sarah Zamora, owner and founder of Artful Mayhem Studio, presented a proposal and presentation to the Keller Public Arts Board. Zamora wanted to paint an original mural on the side of her art studio. Click here to see an enlarged image of the proposed design.
Zamora was inspired by a doodle she created in 1997 in a college class, which incorporated many images that she sees as universally positive and attractive. It was revolved around things that are happy, and should be honored and celebrated. Later, Zamora brought her doodle to life on a canvas.
“It was the first piece of ‘fine art’ I created, where I felt empowered with my art. It’s called ‘conversation piece,'” Zamora said. “With this mural, I think I subconsciously went ‘back to basics’ on it – I wanted it full of color and whimsy, a huge backdrop that would be great for photos, and for it to celebrate love, peace, respect for each other, ourselves, and for our world.”
The mural, entitled “Love, Peace, Respect: Keller” is meant to celebrate and inspire the community through a playful manner, and shed light on what is good in the world. It also reflects Zamora’s personality.
“Encouraging bridging gaps in our personal differences is important to me, especially in this climate,” Zamora explained.
The board reviewed the design and unanimously voted to recommend the mural be approved by the Keller City Council. At that moment, Zamora’s mural proposal was added to the agenda for the next city meeting. Zamora presented the mural before the City Council at the Keller City Pre-Council Meeting on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. to answer all of the council member’s questions. Click here to see Zamora’s proposal.
“My goal is to inspire positive action and personal change, by encouraging an open-minded, kind, intelligent and educated worldview,” Zamora stated in her presentation.
At the meeting, a council member recommended pulling the item from the group consent agenda, and to table the motion for approval at that time, stating that he wanted to ensure that the design and messages are cohesive and complementary to Old Town Keller and the city before calling it to a vote.
“The council meeting was disheartening and frustrating. City staff and the Public Arts Board were confident there would be no issue, and said I didn’t even need to stay for the 7 p.m. meeting. I’d been working since 8 a.m. and hadn’t seen my family, so I went to meet them for dinner,” Zamora said. “Everyone was taken aback when it got pulled from the consent agenda, and I was getting calls to race back up there to defend it. I had no idea about protocol for the meeting, if I needed just majority vote, or why they removed it from the agenda — what the objection was. Being unprepared was nerve-wracking. I have a bunch of friends and clients who knew about the mural, and I didn’t have any time to have others there to support me.”
Although some council members wanted to postpone the consideration of the mural, Councilman Sean Hicks was prepared to approve Zamora’s mural proposal at the Nov. 20 meeting.
“Councilman Green made the motion to table because he wanted to have a separate meeting with Sarah concerning the mural,” explained Councilman Sean Hicks. “ I didn’t think it necessary and voted against the motion. I support the mural and was prepared to vote in favor of the SUP.”
After the member’s recommendation, another council member seconded his motion and simultaneously requested the applicant to produce others that are in support of the mural. In order to present support in an organized manner, Zamora is currently asking the people of the Keller area through social media to fill out a Google form to show their support for the mural. This will be reviewed by the City Council at upcoming meetings.
In Councilman Hicks’ opinion, Zamora’s mural should be allowed, as the mural exercises Zamora’s freedom of speech and expression, a constitutional right she has according to the First Amendment.
“The style of the mural isn’t something I personally enjoy, but I believe in freedom of expression or speech which is a constitutional right,” Councilman Hicks said. “I also think that the message of love, peace, and respect is very positive and one that is a good addition to a children’s art studio.”
According to Councilman Hicks, he doesn’t like to see the government overstep bounds, such as property rights. He explained that the property owner of Artful Mayhem Studio said it okay to put up the mural, so it was okay with him. Additionally, Councilman Hicks has kept in mind that the Public Arts Board reviewed and approved the mural before its proposal to the Keller City Council.
“When my art was publicly questioned if it was ‘right’ for Old Town Keller, I was very frustrated,” Zamora explained. “When the Keller citizens have repeatedly voted that they want more public art, why was I being turned down? Four city staff members, and the Keller Public Arts Members in attendance followed me out of the meeting afterward to encourage me not to give up and express their confusion as to what had happened as well.”
Zamora continued on and prepared for the next scheduled meeting, which took place on Tuesday, Nov. 27, between Zamora and the attending City Council members at that time, including Green, Mitch Holmes, Ed Speakmon, among other relevant city staff members. The goal of the meeting was for Zamora to answer any further questions, and aid the case to move toward an agreement to approve the mural.
“[The] online [public] web petition was formed this day, to be distributed at large,” according to Zamora’s timeline of events. Click here to see the timeline.
At the meeting, Zamora presented the group with over 25 signatures from approving nearby businesses, mainly Old Town Keller businesses in a quarter of a mile radius, in addition to more than 150 signatures and comments from Keller residents, business owners, local citizens, and others in support of the project.
“These signatures were gathered by her personal contacts, in less than three days,” according to information provided on Zamora’s google form petition.
Currently, Zamora has gathered over 500 signatures supporting her mural, a vast majority of those being local citizens. 54 of those signatures come are high school students’, presumably mostly Timber Creek, as Zamora’s daughter, Sophia, attends school there.
“I thought it was important for those students to have a voice to sign it,” Zamora said. “You guys are the future, you have opinions about the arts and public spaces that are more contemporary.”
Over four hours of Zamora’s fall break was dedicated to gathering signatures from more local businesses. Zamora approached each business to make sure that none of them had any issue with her project.
“Whether they loved the art piece or not, they all expressed that it should be my right as the business owner to choose what art fits our style,” Zamora stated.
Following an hour of Zamora answering questions and concerns at the Nov. 27 meeting, a couple of councilmen were still not prepared to make a decision to vote in favor of the project, and still wanted to accumulate more information from the community.
“I had five days to prepare over Thanksgiving break, and had written out full answers to each of the questions or concerns that have been expressed at the previous meeting,” Zamora said. “I had spent time in the old town area looking at both art and murals and signage to know the colors and dimensions of what other businesses were using. So I felt very prepared.”
With respect to the council members, Zamora is pursuing for more input and encouraging feedback from any and all parties interested in sharing their support through the online google form petition. According to the petition, Zamora will be called before the council at 5 p.m. to answer any further questions. The information collected through her google form petition is intended to go before the council formally in a public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.
“By gathering over 500 signatures, exposing the petition and the project to people online through social media groups, and networking around the area, I believe I’ve done my due diligence to spread the word to the community so that they could get both positive and negative feedback from anyone who cared to voice it, and I hope they place their vote with what the majority has stated,” Zamora explained.
At this meeting, Zamora’s mural will be formally discussed on record, and presented once more to the Mayor of Keller, Pat McGrail, and the Keller City Councilmen. It is at this public meeting that the group of seven will vote on Zamora’s proposed mural. Zamora needs a majority vote, four out of seven, for approval.
“Ultimately, [the council’s] position doesn’t ask for them to vote on their personal beliefs, their vote should be what they believe represents the citizens and the City of Keller best,” Zamora mentioned. “My goal is to stand strong about my vision and my belief that my project is an original, vibrant piece of art that will show a position of peace, love, respect, unity, equality, hope, and kindness. I firmly believe that it will bring value to the City of Keller, and hope they approve it as proposed.”
One way that Zamora is encouraging attendees of the meeting to visually show their support is to wear turquoise colors to the event. Zamora has also created t-shirts inspired by the mural design, and is gifting them to those who make a $12 donation to her cause. The shirts come in black and teal. Click here to see the t-shirt design. Those who wish to donate can do so by clicking here. The meeting will take place at the Keller Town Hall, which is located at 1100 Bear Creek Pkwy, Keller, TX 76248.
To view the proposal and presentation, the Keller City Council meeting from Nov. 20, email the Mayor of Keller, Pat McGrail, and City Council directly or contact Artful Mayhem Studio, or to make a donation to the cause, click here.
Sign the petition below to show your support for the Love Peace Respect Mural at Artful Mayhem Studio by clicking here.