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“One is a trashcan project, a partnership between the Friends of the Trail and the Paris Junior College art department,” said Earl Erickson, one of the trail’s founders. “The second one is an outdoor yoga park.”
As a means of giving back to the community, the Valley of the Caddo Museum and Cultural Center decided to purchase two park benches for the trail and donate $400 to the North East Texas Trail Coalition for filing for tax exempt status, said Jimmy Don Nicholson, community service coordinator with Lamar County Adult Probation and chairman of the VOC museum. One bench was placed a little west of 12th Street Southeast. The board then decided to improve the land across from the bench.
“At first, we thought we would simply install ornamental plants on the land, thus enhancing the natural environment there,” he said. “Trail users intrigued with the idea of the ornamental garden began to stop and ask what we were doing.”
Those conversations led to stories of how being in nature had helped people with “mind, body, spirit and emotional good health,” he said. Others spoke of how yoga therapy had helped them at work and home. And so the idea of building a yoga park was born.
Nicholson took the ideas and drew up plans for the park. The idea was presented to city officials and brought to life thanks to the efforts of trail users, the city, Keep Paris Beautiful/Make Lamar County Shine, members of the Valley of the Caddo Museum and Lamar County Adult Probation Community Services.
“The park is a gift to the community and is part of the Trail de Paris and is overseen by the trail manager and the city,” Nicholson said. “The VOC Museum is developing a yoga club which will function much like the Star Gazer Club. There are plans in the works for yoga classes to be held at the Yoga Park, but the park is open to the public for use now.”
The idea of painted trashcans came from conversations among Erickson, Paris Junior College art teacher Susan Moore and Friends of the Trail about ways to assist the PJC Art League with its goal to enrich the Paris area with public artworks.
“Each can represents six weeks of planning and execution,” Moore said. “Although paint and supplies were donated by Sherwin Williams, the students often used their own paint, and a whole host of inventive techniques, to bring the project to fruition.”
This semester’s art students comprising the PJC Art League painted the trash cans, including Baron Capers, Chelsea de la Rosa, Stephanie Eller, Riley Hodneg, Anita O’Neal, Alex Ricketts, Montel Thomas, Amanda Lair-Barnett, Jenaveve Lester and Candra Wyatt.
“This was their first big project,” Moore said. “New cans were scheduled to be placed along the Trail, and it seemed a great opportunity to engage the students as well as give them the opportunity to do original paintings that would be available for public viewing.”
This was not Moore’s first art project for the Trail de Paris. Five years ago her drawing students created murals that decorate the underpass where the trail the loop. She also helped create the scaled solar system that had been painted on the track itself with the help of George Leonberger, a retired instructor, and a student, Michael Thacker.
“We plan to re-do the existing murals that have weathered quite a bit over the past five years, and beautify other areas in town as opportunities become available,” Moore said.