Visit Hot Springs revealed a new mural celebrating African-American culture on May 18 on Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs. The region on Malvern Avenue between Grand Avenue and Convention Boulevard from the 1930s to 1960s, which the mural depicts, was sometimes referred to as “Black Broadway,” giving the mural its name, says Mary Zunick, Visit Hot Springs cultural affairs director. The mural is on the side of the Habitat for Humanity Restore building at 350 Malvern Ave.
The Malvern Avenue region was popular due to the number of African-American-owned businesses, a large hotel and a bathhouse. The city attracted well-known African-American musicians who played at venues in the region.
It is thanks to a partnership between Italian artist Pepe Gaka (Giuseppe Percivati) and Anthony Tidwell of Cutwell 4 Kids, as well as the work of several artists, that the mural could happen. Members of the community modeled for the mural, including some musicians of the Hot Springs World Class High School Band. Several of the members gathered to see the completed mural on May 17, and the public was invited to see it the next day.
The Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and Wells Fargo Foundation, in partnership with Hot Springs Area Cultural Alliance, Cutwell 4 Kids, and Gateway Community Association all came together to fund the mural. Other businesses and individuals in the area also contributed.