KPB President Mary Ann Rentz spruces up a downtown mural

KPB President Mary Ann Rentz

During a welcome break from cold weather and rain, Mary Ann Rentz pulled out her paintbrushes and took the opportunity to touch-up a mural in the heart of downtown Jasper.

“This has been here at least 10 years and it faded,” said Rentz, whose efforts are part of Keep Pickens Beautiful mission to (you guessed it) keep Pickens beautiful. “In this spot the sun just beats down. Some parts look worse than others, but I’d say I’ll be working on this for months.”   The painting, titled “The Trail where they Cried” or “Nunna Daul Tsuny” in Cherokee, was donated by artist Daniel Norris. It features a soaring eagle and howling wolf as focal points, and several images of Native Americans – some sorrowful, some playing music, some dancing. Two rivers that flow down a rock face mimic a crying mother earth.

The mural is on the side of a building at the intersection of Highway 53 and Burnt Mountain Road (just in front of the historic Jasper depot), and highly visible to passing motorists.

Rentz is no stranger to murals having painted two in Talking Rock and one in Marble Hill. She reminisced about the one she commissioned for downtown Jasper.       “I knew I wanted a Native American theme,” she said, pointing to two figures in the painting. “This man here, he lived somewhere in the area. And this man, he was some kind of chief and he visited during the dedication, but Daniel was so nice to donate it to us.”

The KPB president loves murals, and mentioned “The Town of Murals” in Lake Placid, Fla, which has become a tourist attraction with nearly 50 paintings scattered throughout the tiny town.

“They get thousands of tourists who come there every year just to see them,” she said.

One of Rentz’s murals in Talking Rock features Native Americans on the Trail of Tears, the other an homage to Talking Rock. The Marble Hill mural illustrates the marble mining history of the area – she recalled local historian’s insistence on getting the facts straight.

“Mimi Jo Butler was so particular about that one,” Rentz said. “She had to make sure everything was exactly right.”

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By Angela Reinhardt