Artistry will be on display this weekend in downtown Waxahachie when Calina Mishay Johnson paints a mural live during the Texas Country Reporter Festival.
Johnson was featured on the Texas Country Reporter television show and is well-known across Texas for her vivid murals that resemble the small towns she paints in. Famous works of art include a cactus plant in Coleman, a train in Rochester and her first mural in her hometown of Haskell.
“To me, a lot of artists go wrong because they want to leave what they want,” Johnson mentioned. “But for me, having small-town roots, I’m not an urban artist. I know small town politics so if you’re going to make someone happy you have to make it about them.”
Johnson tells the story of a town’s character in a fun, new way while she pays tribute to the local communities she visits. “People don’t necessarily want to see their town change, so they get really protective,” Johnson said.
In Waxahachie, on the corner of E. Jefferson Street and S. Rogers Street, Johnson will paint a clean drop shadow of two big crape myrtles in bloom with a Mockingbird. She will also leave a quote on the wall that will be readable closer to the wall to encourage passersby to get out of the car and take a picture with it.
Also, on the Waxahachie mural will be a quote by Alfred Tennyson will read, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.”
Several murals she has painted have served as popular backdrops for tourists. One of her creations was even featured on country artist Aaron Watson's album cover titled, "Vaquero."
The City of Waxahachie painted a grey base coat in advance so Johnson can sketch out her painting and begin her masterpiece.
“I will come in and do some hand paint because I like to mix the two a little," Johnson explained. "I like for it to have some of that texture and random thickness. And, I like to come in with spray paint and do a lot of layering. People who follow my stuff know I have a lot of drips and color popping out of weird places.”
Johnson started the mural Friday in the parking lot of the Velvet Angel. The early start will allow her time to socialize with festivalgoers.
“My thing, too, is that I know people enjoy art, but I think people also enjoy knowing the artist and if people are coming through the festival, I don’t want to not be able to talk to somebody,” she explained.
This is the third year for the 32-year-old artist to paint murals but she began her artistic journey seven years ago painting canvases.
“I went through a really hard time in my life, and I decided that I was going to go back to school and work with kids with autism and I got my board certification to do that and was just really unhappy,” Johnson disclosed.
The paperwork bogged her down, and she missed the art world. She quit her job, hit rock bottom and dove into street art.
“I wanted to do something crazy and feel alive with a risk. So I did my first [mural] back in my hometown, and it took off after that,” Johnson explained. “It was insane.”
The mural that got her start was painted in Haskell.
She explained the process of how she approached the original design. After she spoke with a well-known, 90-year-old individual in Haskell, Johnson went to his home and photographed him holding potting soil in both hands. She then replicated that photo of the old hands, holding soil with a sprout blooming.
The mural symbolized deep roots and served as a reminder of where “we came from with the values and these roots. It’s so much more than the farming thing, it’s who we are,” she said.
To see all of her work, visit www.streetartbycal.com, or follow Johnson on Twitter at @calinamishayart and on her page on Facebook by searching Calinamishay.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450