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Surprise Mural Kicks Off Bright Walls Preview

Artists Justin Suarez and Sarah Rutherford view their progress while taking a break Monday evening.  Photos by Bart Hawley, JTV.

The Bright Walls Mural Festival held a preview ceremony today at Bucky Harris Park and introduced the first two Bright Walls artists participating this year.  Justin Suarez and Sarah Rutherford arrived in Jackson over the weekend to begin their work on a “preview mural” on The Blake Building, adjacent to Bucky Harris Park. 

The event today was designed to thank partners and Patronicity donors, serving as an unofficial kickoff to the Bright Walls Mural Festival season.  Bright Walls begins on September 5 and runs through September 10, 2019 in Downtown Jackson.

Bright Walls co-chairs Clay McAndrews and Jacque Austin introduced the two artists who most recently have been featured at Color the Creek, Battle Creek’s mural event.  Both Suarez and Rutherford are from Rochester, NY and paint as a team and individually. 

These two artists were announced earlier this summer as part of the roster of talent.  They agreed to come in early to paint a preview mural.  The building being painted, The Blake Building, was also a surprise as it was not on the list of previously announced wall locations. 

Justin and Sarah, painting together while using two lift cranes, outlined their design Saturday and continued with the painting through today.  They plan to finish the piece by Thursday.

Over the past few weeks, Bright Walls team members, all volunteers and members of Jackson Young Professionals, have been working behind the scenes on hundreds of details.  The group estimates this year’s festival will cost $360,000, more than double last year’s budget, which is raised through partnerships, sponsorships and donations. 

At the event, McAndrews and Austin invited community participation as many volunteer positions need to be filled.  To learn more, click here.  The two lead a core group of 12 volunteer team members who produce the festival.

Artist Bios:

Justin Suarez is an artist who brings together the rural and the urban. Celebrating wildlife, he paints flora and fauna flawlessly over concrete and brick.

Justin Suarez brings the intensity of a raptor to his artistic endeavors, as well as his work as valued handler of birds of prey at Wild Wings Animal Sanctuary outside Rochester, NY, he is able to capture the majesty of the natural world through his explosive graphics and remarkable technique.

With over 18 years experience, he has painted murals across the US, and his work has been exhibited around the world.

Boston born Sarah C. Rutherford is a muralist, illustrator and activist who supports women. Trying to bring people and communities together through art, she believes that murals work their way into the fabric of people’s daily lives and therefore should be accessible to all and never be owned by someone entirely.

To see the complete roster and bios, click here.

To see the complete schedule of daily events, click here.

To hear Justin and Sarah talk about the design and inspiration of their preview mural on The Bart Hawley Show, click here.

Bright Walls Mural Festival begins September 5 and runs through September 10, 2019.

Justin Suarez and Sarah Rutherford being introduced at today’s event.


Jacque Austin and Clay McAndrews previewing Bright Walls.


An audience of partners, donors and community members listen to the artists speaking at today’s event.









Paint, banners, posters, shirts and other supplies are being organized in the staging area, Masonic Temple building.


Justin Suarez and Sarah Rutherford inside the staging area, Masonic Temple building.




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