MONTEGO BAY, St James – NINE months after a mural was painted on a stretch of wall on Howard Cooke Boulevard in Montego Bay, the local authorities and a corporate partner have hired new artists to redo parts of it. The goal, according to deputy mayor of Montego Bay Richard Vernon, is to get artwork that does a better job of capturing the western city’s unique features.
In addition to the more recently built Harmony Beach Park and some of the tourist resort’s more iconic locations, the upgraded mural will feature the very recognisable bottle of J Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.
“We decided to redo the mural at Howard Cooke because there are some things within the former mural that we wanted to emphasise more, and those weren’t emphasised,” Vernon told the Jamaica Observer West.
Elected on a Jamaica Labour Party ticket, he is councillor for the Montego Bay South Division which includes a section of the heavily trafficked corridor where the mural is located.
“Even the expressions in terms of how some of the characters were presented in the mural, we weren’t necessarily pleased with it,” the deputy mayor explained.
He said the mural, painted last July by a local artist selected after a call for designers, had been seen and approved by the St James Municipal Corporation but the work executed was not true to the approved design.
The changes now being made, Vernon said, were again voted on and approved by him and his peers and they expect the artwork will now play up some of the important aspects of the parish.
“What you are seeing there now being done is set to highlight some of our notable areas: popular areas such as Margaritaville, Harmony Beach Park which is relatively new, the cultural centre, and the things that make Montego Bay [unique] — separate and apart from the whole Jamaica,” he said.
Members of the local authority, he noted, are pleased with the new design.
“It is a work in progress now but we are pleased thus far. We would have received a mock-up of what it is supposed to look like and we ratified the mock-up prior [to work beginning]. We know what it is supposed to look like, save and except that a number of details will be added to it, but we have a general idea what it is supposed to look like,” said Vernon.
He declined to provide the cost of painting the original mural, for which the municipal corporation foot the bill, but he stressed that the upgrade will not come at an additional cost to taxpayers.
“You would note that the new mural that is being done has certain little aspects of it that is reflecting J Wray & Nephew,” Vernon told Observer West.
“It is a Jamaican rum and it has been with us for many years so if they come as a corporate citizen and want to sponsor and at the same time utilise a little bit as advertising, we don’t have any problem,” he added.
So far there is at least one bottle of rum depicted on the mural plus a stand-alone J Wray & Nephew logo.
Vernon said he expects more murals to be painted as part of efforts to improve the aesthetics of the city.
“We have to embark upon the urban renewal project to lighten some areas, to improve the aesthetics, to improve the signage across the city, to build sidewalks, and to ensure we have walkability and mobility within the space,” he said.