Junction City left a lasting impression on Mural Artist Dr. Bob Palmer when people brought him cookies and drinks and offered to help him as he painted the mural on the Junction City Little Theater annex building at 618 N. Jefferson St.
The mural is a collection of ideas from locals involved in the theater and universal theater symbols of masks and bouquets. The mural includes a special spot to take selfies in front of a theater stage backdrop among Wizard of Oz characters.
Palmer, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, painted the mural in 2019 after Sally Jardine, Arts Council board member, contacted him about it. It took a year and a half to work out the details, but eventually the work was underway. Palmer and one helper, Chris Presley, of Oklahoma City, a former student of Palmer’s, completed the mural in three days.
Palmer has painted over 4,000 murals all over the world, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Texas, Canada, Mexico, Macedonia, Croatia and Greece. He took international jobs gained from international student referrals at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he was a professor. Palmer’s first mural was painted on a wall in a dormitory lobby at East Tennessee State University, where he and his wife were dorm parents in the late 1970’s. It was an ocean scene in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. Palmer said he always paints large scenes and has a master’s degree in Painting and Photography.
Palmer retired from teaching in 2014, where he was teaching mural painting and photography. He has been mural-painting full time since.
His largest mural is a total of eight blocks long. It is two-sided, with each side four blocks long, located on the Santa Fe Railroad wall in the Brick Town district of Oklahoma City. It is 10 times the size of the Little Theater Mural in Junction City. At one time, Palmer had as many as 20 painters working on the mural.
Palmer Studios was selected as the centennial company to paint the mural for Oklahoma City’s 100 year anniversary. The mural is iconic and has appeared in movies and TV ads. The mural has imagery from the song, “Oklahoma.”
When he goes to a job, he brings his own trailer filled with everything he needs including ladders, paint and scaffolding. Palmer charges a minimum of $5,000 to do a mural out-of-state, and it usually takes three to five days to complete a project. Other mural painters also help him out.