You’ve probably noticed the large orange crane at the McKinney Flour Mill and a man holding a spray gun. The 100-foot mural is slowly taking shape with the expected finish date and ribbon cutting scheduled for August 31.
Local Profile caught up with artist Guido van Helten, who. originally hails from Melbourne, Australia, but now calls Minnesota home. His temporary residence is near downtown McKinney, just a few blocks from the old flour mill.
According to van Helten, he gets started around 5:00 a.m. and finishes around nine at night. “I work with the sun, working around its path. It helps that the weather is so predictable. Although, I think we would all like some rain!”
For months, van Helten spent months speaking to the community walking around the city’s historic downtown and exploring the East Side. “It’s very suburban until you try to drive through it,” he says.
The city of McKinney admired van Helten’s work, which includes a series of similar murals in Kansas and Minnesota. “I never say no to anything,” he says. “They asked me to come to McKinney, and I said yes without too much thought about it.”
When asked about the subjects in the mural and whose stories he wanted to tell, Guido says,. “None are less important than the other.” He continued to explain that the people in the mural were representative of groups of people instead of being specific. He hopes that everyone that enjoys the mural sees a little of themselves in it.
The mural does look like the yearly Oktoberfest or the tents at the McKinney Farmers Market, which takes place just down the road every Saturday. “I’ve heard several people say that,” van Helten tells us. “The color scheme is also off of the surrounding landscape. I didn’t want it to be neon, or something crazy, I wanted it to reflect the area.”
The mural is part of a revitalization project for the area, which includes a new city hall. Sadly, the historic ice house was not, by the city’s determination, salvageable.
“The mural will be opposite from a public courtyard,” Co-Assistant City Manager Kim Flom tells Local Profile. “We wanted our city hall to be approachable to the citizens of McKinney and have a welcoming feel, something that makes it stand out from many other city halls. When it is finished, you’ll be able to stroll around the courtyard and admire Mr. van Helten’s work.”
LocalProfile just wrapped up with Kim Flom when a fire broke out at the Square; you can read the story here.