The creative mind behind the two iconic murals in downtown Selmer, Tennessee will return to McNairy County for a command performance. Nashville artist, Brian Tull, was recently commissioned to complete a third mural, the latest in a public art initiative that began over a decade ago with Tull’s Rockabilly Highway Mural. That was the first public art project for both Tull, and the county art agency, Arts in McNairy, but it wouldn’t be the last.
Tull, a working studio artist, has since established himself as a sought-after muralist, creating ambitious public art projects in Chicago, North Carolina, Mississippi and his adopted hometown, Nashville. Originally from Selmer, Tull returned home for a second Rockabilly Highway Mural in 2012, and the results have been transformative for his hometown
“When Brian came on board for the first mural,” said Dr. Shawn Pitts, AiM Board member and project cochair, “there wasn’t a lot going on in downtown. With the addition of Rockabilly Highway Murals I and II, we’ve seen steady retail growth in the town’s traditional business district as well as tremendous interest from cultural tourists both domestic and international. That’s a direct result of Brian’s artistic vision, and a big win for McNairy County.”
Beyond the economic impact of the murals, many observers have noted a shift in local attitudes. Arts in McNairy leadership envisioned the initiative as positive representations of the area’s rich music culture which could educate and engender pride of place. “I don’t think people really understood the significance of this region’s music heritage until those murals went up,” said downtown photographer and business owner, Bryan Huff. “Now residents have a better sense of that history and a good reason to be proud of it. I’m glad to see the project continuing.”
The new mural will be installed over the coming months and dedicated at the 2023 Rockabilly Highway Revival next June. Thanks to the generous cooperation of longtime downtown business owner, Peggy Griffin, the location will be the southwest facing wall of Tru Savers Hardware. It’s a high visibility location, adjacent to the county courthouse, just across South 3rd Street from the U.S. Postoffice. The project will be funded, in part, by a Tennessee Arts Commission grant.
Progress on the mural may be followed on this website or Arts in McNairy's Facebook and Instagram pages. Supporters can help defray the costs by donating to the project’s GoFundMe page.