Brian Chilson

Sculptor and painter Kevin Kresse announced Tuesday on social media that the massive mural he’s been working on for over a year at the Jim Wetherington Boys & Girls Club in North Little Rock (1212 Jim Wetherington Place) is finally complete. 

Kresse, a native of North Little Rock who clocked many an hour playing basketball at the facility as a boy, started on the mural in May 2023, around the time the club celebrated its 100th year in operation. Tackled in “fits and starts” to avoid cold and heat peaks in the winter and summer, the mural covers two sides of the building — one facing 13th Street and the other facing Main Street — that are roughly 25 feet tall. Kresse isn’t sure exactly how many hours the project took, but the number is likely daunting.

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Brian Chilson

“I’m afraid to find out because I’d be too depressed from what an hourly wage might turn out to be,” he said jokingly.

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Kresse said his original design for the mural looked — in the words of his wife — “like a brochure,” so he decided to push it in a more fantastical direction. 

“I started introducing a little bit of magic realism and the idea of ‘don’t put limitations on your dreams,’” he said. “Taking things they do like basketball, volleyball and swimming, but they’re doing the jump ball for the Earth instead of a basketball. And she’s hitting the moon instead of a volleyball. And she’s swimming over the city. The adult is blowing this magic dust inspiration that goes to the kids who are reading and dreaming about their future selves.”

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Brian Chilson

According to a recent story published by Hibblen Radio, the inspiration-spreading adult depicted in the mural is Hearne Fine Heart owner Garbo Hearne

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Kresse believes strongly in the work happening at the Boys & Girls Club. 

“So many times when I was working on the mural, I had to run in and maybe get water or something that I needed … and a kid would be sick or upset or something. And they’re on their knees talking, really working with them and seeing the children,” he said. “I think kids — well everyone, but kids in particular — they want to be seen and understood. That’s such a foundational place for them to grow from. It was nice to see them doing the work that most people won’t see.” 

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Brian Chilson

Kresse has been a practicing artist in Central Arkansas for decades now (in September, his Johnny Cash sculpture will debut at National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol building alongside the recently unveiled statue of Daisy Bates), but his work as muralist is more recent, with his first foray being a piece he painted for the 7th Street Mural Project in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. His other murals include one of longtime KABF-FM 88.3 Program Director John Cain, also part of the 7th Street Mural Project, and two more in North Little Rock: “Dogtown Proud” at 4th and Main streets and “Big Dam Cyclists” at 7th and Main streets.

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