Tuscaloosa Leaders Unveil “Druid City” Mural Outside Egan’s Bar
Community leaders from all over Tuscaloosa gathered outside Egan's Bar on the Strip Monday morning to officially unveil an artist's mural on the bar's exterior wall that celebrates the Druid City.
Sandra Wolfe, the executive director of Tuscaloosa's Arts and Humanities Council, said the creation of the mural was a group effort -- Phillip Weaver owns the building that houses Egan's and worked with the bar's owner Mike McWhirter to offer the space for the piece and McAbee construction worked to make the wall ready to paint. The Arts Council selected the artist to create the mural from a pool of 23 candidates, funding was provided by Miers Pass Philanthropy and Buffalo Rock, Inc., and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama helped bring all the different parties together.
The mural is the work of Jason Tetlak, an interactive artist from Jacksonville, Florida whose art frequently hides a hidden message only visible when viewed through a red filter.
The Egan's mural is no exception -- at first glance, the mural reads "Tuscaloosa" in vibrant pastel colors, but viewed through the special filter, "Tuscaloosa" fades away and the mural shows "The Druid City" instead.
Chris Gunter, the area sales manager for Buffalo Rock Pepsi, said his company has purchased hundreds of the special viewers, which can be picked up at Egan's Bar or a few doors down at Buffalo Phil's by anyone who wants to see the mural's hidden message.
Jim Page, the president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, said business leaders in Tuscaloosa were inspired to support art installations like the mural after the Chamber's bench-marking trip to Greenville, South Carolina in 2017, where public-private partnerships for artistic endeavors are commonplace.
Page said he hopes the Druid City mural will become an iconic image that comes to mind any time people talk about Tuscaloosa, and that it will be the first of many murals, sculptures and other artistic endeavors that elevate the city's appeal.
Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox was also at the unveiling Monday and praised all parties involved for coming together and making the mural possible.
Maddox said he hopes to see public art become so common and widespread that it becomes part of the city's DNA, and that visitors and residents alike will think and talk about the pieces when they discuss what makes Tuscaloosa special.