Unique murals in Joplin and Carthage are keeping one man busy


MISSOURI (KSNF) – There are usually two options when it comes to decorating the side of a building with art.

Paint, or another approach, which is keeping a southwest Missouri man busy these days.

There’s only one problem with painting a mural on the side of a wall, namely Mother Nature.

It’s only a matter of time until she starts breaking down the colors and even the bricks they’re painted on.

Paul Whitehill, of Whitehill Enterprises, has made a living using another approach: tile.

That’s the case with a recently finished mural on the square in Carthage.

“I love it. We get so many people stopping by, slowing down, taking pictures. I think it’s going to be a great destination for Carthage,” says Whitehill.

At 28 feet tall and 44 feet wide, and containing 459 pieces total, it’s the largest tile project he’s ever worked on.

He says he hopes it does justice to Carthage artist Andy Thomas, who painted the original picture depicting life in the Maple Leaf City as well as some of its most famous natives.

“We print ceramic toners onto a bisque porcelain tile, and then they’re fired in a kiln at 2000 degrees, they’re permanent, they will not fade in direct sun,” says Whitehill.

That means, as long as the building they’re glued onto continues to stand, the picture quality will not fade.

Over in Joplin, he’s busy on a repair project.

He installed the popular butterfly mural in Mercy Park a few years ago, but a few months ago, the brutal winter took its toll on the wall the mural is glued to and a couple of the 200 tiles came loose.

“We’ll probably put in a good 10 hours tomorrow, and we still have to grout it, um and we got more people on hand so we can get that done a lot quicker,” says Whitehill.

Out of an abundance of caution, he removed all 200 tiles and is putting them back in place on Tuesday, rain or shine.

So, the symbol of the butterflies many people, especially children, claimed to see protecting them from the 2011 Joplin tornado, is finished in time for the 10th anniversary this weekend.

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