A seven-piece band of musicians all with ties to Waxahachie and Ellis County are beautiful capture mid-jam session on the KBEC Radio oversized heart in Getzendaner Park.
KBEC Radio General Manager Jim Phillips collaborated with local artist Julie Ann Law, who is also known as “The Painted Lady," to master the scene painted on the five-foot heart incorporated with the local marketing campaign "Waxahachie: A place in your heart, Texas."
“The first thing we talked about was, we wanted to capture the heart of Waxahachie and what is the heart of Waxahachie,” Phillips explained. “We thought, it’s the people, it’s the architecture, it’s the houses, it’s the feeling you get when you drive the streets of Waxahachie.”
Once the two realized the permanent destination of the heart, Phillips and Law ventured off to Getzendaner Park and noticed it is in the proximity of the Chautauqua Auditorium — a historical structure that hosts musical and theater productions.
Phillips reconciled the vision of the heart with the location and was inspired behind the history of music. Phillips used Sam Taylor, of Ennis, who was a producer for ZZ Top, as a resource in the project.
Phillips hunted for accurate information about famous Waxahachie and Ellis County musicians. He was quickly directed toward the Texas Music Association in Austin and from there, the talent was found.
Before Phillips detailed the individual artists, he requested the painted band playing in the Chautauqua be examined closely because, at first glance, one might not notice Waxahachie Mayor Kevin Strength on the drums.
“The reason why we put Kevin Strength on there as the drummer, was because we didn’t have a local drummer from Texas and we thought, 'alright, let’s put the dang mayor on there,'" Phillips laughed. Law later took the credit for wanting the Waxahachie mayor in the band.
Phillips first mentioned Ernest Dale Tubb, who he deemed the most famous from Ellis County out of the mix-match band.
Tubb was born in 1914 on a cotton farm near the town called Crisp, which no longer exists. He is known for the song “Waltz Across Texas,” which was recorded in 1965. Tubb was also named a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1965 and was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
Phillips noted two more musicians painted on the heart. Sam “Lightning Hopkins” recorded a song in Waxahachie East between 1955-62 with his brothers and Lemon Henry “Blind Melon” Jefferson.
“Blind Lemon Jefferson and Sam Lightning Hopkins actually recorded a blues song about his brother living in Waxahachie,” Phillips elaborated. “It was recorded over on the east side, but nobody can ever figure out where they recorded it.”
Jefferson, born on a farm in Coachman, Texas, is also known as one of the founders of Texas blues.
Raymond “Mike" O’Daniel is the third person to the right on the heart. He was a Nashville Session musician that played with Levee Singers in Dallas. O’Daniel also spent 20 years broadcasting at KBEC and was a 10-year consultant on motion pictures for dialect and mannerisms.
To the right of O’Daniel is Ronald Monroe “Ronnie” Dawson, an American rockabilly musician who lived in Waxahachie and attended the Southern Bible Institute. He also appeared regularly on the Big D Jamboree radio show in Dallas starting in 1956.
The person second to the left is Lecil Travis Martin — better known as Boxcar Willie — who was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry as its 60th member in 1981. The Sterrett-born musician had his greatest chart success when “King of the Road" reached number five in the UK pop charts.
THE MESSAGE WITHIN THE HEART
On the other side of the heart is a vibrant, traditional landscape of buildings and homes true to Waxahachie. Law is exceptionally talented and has painted several public works in her time. She did admit the shape of the heart was a challenge to paint.
“The shape at the bottom. When I’m painting a landscape, and you’ve gotta come down the side with all the buildings in town and all of a sudden you come to a point. Ahh. That was not easy," Law explained.
Law moved to Waxahachie the year her son, Julian Patrick Quinn, was born. Coincidently, she said, “he was an amazing musician” who played the banjo and guitar and was a songwriter as well.
Quinn, 22, is featured skateboarding near the Downtown Farmer’s Market at the bottom of the heart. It is also a painted tribute to her son, who was hit by a car last August in Burleson.
“I didn’t think I could paint him, but I did,” said Law with heavy emotion in her voice. “I’m happy because I did it. I sat there and cried for two days.”
Quinn is a 2014 Arlington Lamar graduate and also attended Waxahachie Global High. He graduated from the University of North Texas in 2018 with a degree in philosophy and ran the club related to his field while enrolled. Law described her son as a talented musician, specializing in the banjo and guitar. Quinn was also a songwriter and extremely bright.
When Law is not being paid for her work, she conducts mission work and travels to other countries to visit orphanages and homeless communities. She photographs her people and paints their portraits when she returns home.
Law painted the mural on the side of the KBEC Radio 1390 and 99.1 FM building, as well as the rotunda inside Waxahachie City Hall. Her paintings can be found at KBEC and Three Rivers Coffee, and she has done a couple of shows in Dallas with the Deep Ellum Art Company. To follow the work of Law, visit, https://www.beautyinpoverty.org/. Follow her on Facebook at The Painted Lady.