Out & About

The Unexpected

 mural by Vhils in Fort Smith, AR

Above: Vhils

When we moved to Fort Smith we loved sitting on our porch, walking around our neighborhood and being in such close proximity to downtown and the riverfront. Unfortunately, much of Fort Smith doesn’t seem to feel the same way about the area. We soon discovered that downtown Fort Smith and it’s surrounding neighborhoods are under-appreciated. It’s easy to focus on vacant lots and dilapidated buildings (commercial and residential), or even imagine the bygone days of the Old West and the Fort Smith of True Grit, but it’s much harder to imagine a modern and vibrant future here


detail of a mural by Vhils in Fort Smith, AR

Above: detail of the Vhils mural

Recently, however, Fort Smith played host to the Unexpected Project: Festival of Murals which seemed to hint at a way forward. Over about a week of festivities, eleven murals were painted on downtown Fort Smith buildings. The Festival was part of 64.6 Downtown which “is committed to bringing vibrancy to downtown Fort Smith and the Riverfront. Downtown is our heart and soul, and quality of place is essential to Fort Smith’s future economic and community growth. We invite you to share our vision with us.”

The whole thing felt pretty refreshing for downtown Fort Smith, and even though a number of the murals featured Western motifs, they had a modern edge.

mural by Askew in Fort Smith, AR

Above: Askew

One of our favorites was by VHILS (above) which was based off the earliest images of Cherokee Indians. For a town that often seems stuck to it’s past as the last outpost before Indian Territory, it’s a pretty powerful image to have looming over downtown. The technique used was also different than the rest of the murals:

“Layers of white and dark plaster were applied over the bricks of the old Malco Theater building to give the artist a canvas for what is now the face of a Native American.” You can read more about it here.

D*Face mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: “Bad Lands” by D*Face

UAFS mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: a mural of Gutenberg done by UAFS students

Maser mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: Maser

mural in Fort Smith, AR by Ana Maria

Above: Ana María

ROA mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: ROA

Bicicleta Sem Freio mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: from “Catira” by Bicicleta Sem Freio

Ana María mural in Fort Smith, AR

Above: Ana María

mural by ROA in Fort Smith, AR

Above: “The Otter” by ROA

Westervin Shop

Shop Update: Beaded Necklaces

Palmdale Necklace /// Westervin

Palmdale Necklace 

I like to visit bead shops when we travel. On our latest vacation, we spent a few nights at a great AirBnB in Nashville, and I made Brian go with me to a snazzy little bead shop in town. With his help, I was able to exercise restraint and only brought home a small bag of pretty beads. But even those few additions to be bead collection made me realize I had more than I needed. So on a bit of a whim, I woke up yesterday and, with coffee in hand, set about whipping up some one-of-a-kind necklaces while the morning sun lit my work table. 

Coeur D'Alene Necklace /// Westervin

Coeur D’Alene Necklace

It felt wonderful to finally make something again after a long creative-draught. Before I knew it, the afternoon rolled by and I’d created 8 necklaces, using some copper wire and leather cord I had. Piecing together the beads for each piece — from hand-painted glass beads to glazed ceramic ones to carved pieces of coral and marble — felt like a puzzle. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out; I ended up with 8 pieces, each one a special statement necklace.

Petaluma Necklace /// Westervin

Petaluma Necklace 

But! I couldn’t just add 8 new necklaces to my jewelry box. I just Kondoed it, remember? So, thinking of my poor little Etsy shop, alone and all but ignored these past few months, I spent the rest of the afternoon photographing the necklaces and listing them in the Westervin Shop. I shocked myself at how quickly it all came together. It’s as if each little bead was meant to find its way to me, be paired with other little bead friends and transformed into a special adornment, and eventually wind up in my shop, awaiting a new home. Will yours be the forever home of one of these necklaces? See them all here.

Hindsdale Necklace /// Westervin

Hindsdale Necklace 

Honey Hills Necklace /// Westervin

Honey Hills Necklace 

Mendota Necklace /// Westervin

Mendota Necklace