By Conrad Dudderar
Artist Tox Murillo’s bright vision of an Oklahoma sunset along historic Route 66 is coming to life in downtown Yukon.
A Yukon 66 Main Street committee selected Murillo to create and paint a 21-by-50-foot cultural mural on the east-side wall at 528 W Main. The City of Yukon-owned building houses the Yukon Main Street office.
Murillo on June 18 began prepping his aptly titled “Yukon Sunset” mural, and his work ramped up by mid-week.
“People have been stopping by, watching me,” he said. “Some have told me I’m doing a good job, which makes me happy.”
Admirers have even offered him cold drinks to help stay hydrated in the scorching summer heat.
The Yukon Sunset mural design has started taking shape and the Enid artist predicts he’ll need about two more weeks to finish.
“I have done some other big murals, but this is the tallest one,” said Murillo, who has been a professional artist for about 10 years.
Motorists and pedestrians who head west on Main Street passing 5th Street in downtown Yukon have started taking notice of the impressive colorful display.
“Route 66 is something historical for me,” Murillo said. “If you are from another country or another state, you know Route 66. It’s something really special for me to be doing this mural on this road.
“I believe this project is going to bring a lot of attention – not just to this building, but to the road. It’s going to be something cool and bright.”
Mural project coordinator Stephanie Hale believes this vibrant artwork will have a tremendous impact on Yukon’s Main Street landscape.
“When you’re an Okie, sometimes you forget how beautiful Oklahoma is,” said Hale, a Yukon native and downtown business owner. “I think this will let us ‘renew’ ourselves to the beauty of Oklahoma.
“I have an invested interest because I have a store one block down, so I want to look at that every day. It’s another one of our projects helping beautify Main Street.”
A native of Los Angeles, Calif., Murillo lived back and forth between LA and Mexico before moving to the Sooner state.
“I live in the middle of Oklahoma; I feel this is my home now,” Murillo said. “It’s a really good place to be.
“I am trying to represent a sunset on the mural because that’s something I really like about Oklahoma. I used to live at the beach in Mexico, and the sea made me feel inspired.”
Since coming to Oklahoma, Murillo has drawn inspiration from the sky, clouds and sunsets.
“I want people from here to know they have something beautiful in their state,” the artist said.
The Yukon Main Street mural will feature a large image of the state bird – the scissor-tailed flycatcher – and other elements of Oklahoma and Route 66.
16 ARTISTS APPLIED
Yukon Main Street’s Design Point, chaired by Mayor Shelli Selby, formed an artist selection panel to find the right person to paint this mural.
“A request for qualifications (RFQ) was created and sent to many outlets throughout the state for artists,” Yukon Main Street Director Vicki Davis said. “We received 16 submissions.”
Interested artists were asked to propose a mural with:
- A vibrant use of color
- A unique depiction of Yukon culture
- An interactive experience
- The potential to draw tourism
All submissions came from highly talented artists, Davis noted.
“Especially those who we interviewed, they were all able to illustrate wonderful things about Yukon, our people and our culture,” the Main Street director added. “Any of those would have been great murals – and may even be future murals.”
The panel reviewed and scored each submission, narrowing the list to six artists who were then interviewed individually.
“That’s when we got to meet the artist with the artwork, and brought them together,” Hale said. “Each of them had a proposal, or just ideas, of what to put on the building.”
Murillo’s proposal was selected.
“It was unanimous,” Hale shared. “All of the artists’ ideas were good; Tox just ‘nailed’ it.”
The site of the Yukon Sunset mural is “perfect,” Davis emphasized.
“It’s kind of like depicting our unique culture, on the ‘quiet’ side of Yukon.”
Some $15,000 was raised to cover the cost of Yukon Main Street’s mural project.
The work is being funded, in part, by a Keep Oklahoma Beautiful roadside grant. Other funds were collected through sponsorships, an adopt-a-bench program and sales of “Creative Crosswalk” T-shirts.
This has all been part of ongoing efforts to beautify – and further revitalize – Yukon’s historic Main Street business district.
“A lot went into the fund-raising part of it,” Hale said. “And we still are fund-raising; we’ll never quit because we see a need for these downtown Main Street projects.”
Contributions to the Main Street beautification fund have supported other endeavors like the “Yukon Salutes” banners honoring military and first responders, public art projects like a Creative Crosswalk on S 5th Street created by Yukon artist Carlos Barboza, downtown planters, and benches.
“Anyone who donates to our beautification fund will literally see their money going into action,” Hale pointed out. “One-hundred percent of it is going to beautify Main Street – for years to come.”
Murillo has been a full-time professional artist for the past three years. His other experience includes custom-painting cars and bikes, along with painting restaurants, signs and canvas.
“I can paint on any surface, any dimensions,” he said. “I can do something really, really small with my airbrush, and I can do something huge like this wall.”
Learn more about Yukon Main Street projects and the beautification fund by calling (405) 350-5999 or visiting www.yukon66mainstreet.com